Foxconn suicides

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The Foxconn suicides were a spate of suicides linked to low pay and brutal working conditions at the Foxconn City industrial park in Shenzhen, China, that occurred alongside several additional suicides at various other Foxconn-owned locations and facilities in mainland China.[1] The series of suicides drew media attention, and employment practices at Foxconn—one of the world's largest contract electronics manufacturers—were investigated by several of its customers, including Apple and Hewlett-Packard (HP).[2]

Events of suicide[edit]


While 2010 was a notable year for the company in the number of suicides; preceding years saw suicides being reported as well.

English name Chinese name Sex Age Suicide attempt date Description Status
Mr. Hou Unknown; Family name: Male 19 18 Jun 2007 Hanged himself in a company bathroom.[3][4] Deceased
Sun Dan-yong 孙丹勇 Male 25 16 Jul 2009 Threw himself from an apartment building[5] after losing an iPhone prototype in his possession.[6] Before death, he claimed he was beaten and his residence searched by Foxconn employees.[6] Deceased


English name Chinese name Sex Age Suicide attempt date Description Status
Ma Xiang-qian 马向前[7] Male 19 23 Jan 2010 Threw himself from building[8][2] Deceased
Mr. Li Unknown; Family name: [7] Male 28[2] 11 Mar 2010 Threw himself from building[9] Unknown
Tian Yu 田玉[7] Female 17 17 Mar 2010 Threw herself from building[9] Paralyzed from waist down[10]
Mr. Lau Unknown; Family name: [7] Male 23 29 Mar 2010 Threw himself from building[9] Unknown
Rao Shu-qin 饶淑琴 Female 18[2] 6 Apr 2010 Threw herself from building[9] Survived[2]
Ms. Ning Unknown; Family name: Female 18 7 Apr 2010 Threw herself from building[9] Deceased[2]
Lu Xin 卢新[7] Male 24 6 May 2010 Threw himself from building[9] Deceased[11]
Zhu Chen-ming 祝晨明[7] Female 24 11 May 2010 Threw herself from building[12] Deceased[2]
Liang Chao 梁超[7] Male 21 14 May 2010 Threw himself from building[13] Deceased[2]
Nan Gan 南刚[7] Male 21 21 May 2010 Threw himself from building[14] Deceased[2]
Li Hai 李海 Male 19 25 May 2010 Threw himself from building[15] Deceased[2]
Mr. He Unknown; Family name: [7] Male 23 26 May 2010 Threw himself from building[16] Unknown
Mr. Chen Unknown; Family name: [7] Male 25 27 May 2010 Suicide Deceased[7]
Mr. Liu Unknown; Family name: Male 18 20 Jul 2010 Threw himself from the sixth floor of a dormitory building[17][18] Deceased[18]
Unknown Unknown Male 23[19] 5 Nov 2010 Threw himself from building[20][21] Deceased[21]


English name Chinese name Sex Age Suicide attempt date Description Status
Wang Ling Unknown Female 25 7 Jan 2011 Jumped from building after being sent to a psychiatric hospital Deceased[22]
Unknown Unknown Male 20 26 May 2011 Threw himself from building. Died in Deyuan town, Chengdu (possibly in Pi County) Deceased[23]
Mr. Cai Unknown; Family name: 蔡 Male 21[24] July 2011[25] Threw himself from building at Shenzhen plant.[25] Deceased
Li Rongying Unknown Female 20 23 November 2011 Threw herself from building Deceased[26]


English name Chinese name Sex Age Suicide attempt date Description Status
Unknown Unknown Male 23 14 June 2012 Threw himself from building Deceased[27]

Additionally, 150 Chinese workers threatened suicide in protest on 2 January 2012.[28]


English name Chinese name Sex Age Suicide attempt date Description Status
Xu Lizhi 许立志 Male 24 24 April 2013 Threw himself from building Deceased[29]


Eva Dou of The Wall Street Journal reported the suicide of a 31-year-old night shift worker at Foxconn's production building in Zhengzhou on 18 August 2016.[30]


English name Chinese name Sex Age Suicide attempt date Description Status
Li Ming 李明 Male 31 6 January 2018 Threw himself from building Deceased[31]


Foxconn clients[edit]

Apple issued a public statement about the suicides, and company spokesperson Steven Dowling said "[Apple is] saddened and upset by the recent suicides at Foxconn... A team from Apple is independently evaluating the steps they are taking to address these tragic events, and we will continue our ongoing inspections of the facilities where our products are made." The statement was released after the results from the company's probe into its suppliers' labor practices were published in early 2010. Foxconn was not specifically named in the report, but Apple suggested poor treatment of workers in facilities that manufacture its products may include violations of labor laws, violations of Apple's own rules for suppliers, and child labor[32] (workers as young as 14 could legally work in China through special programs around the time this report was compiled).[citation needed]

Apple committed to the implementation of changes following the suicides, but in late 2014 news reports of labor issues at another factory of a Chinese supplier also surfaced.[33]


The 2010 suicides prompted 20 Chinese universities to compile an 83-page report on Foxconn, which they described as a "labor camp". Interviews of 1,800 Foxconn workers at 12 factories found evidence of illegal overtime and failure to report accidents. The report also criticized Foxconn's management style, which it called inhumane and abusive.[34] Additionally, long working hours,[35] discrimination towards Mainland Chinese workers by their Taiwanese coworkers,[36] and a lack of working relationships[37] were all presented as potential problems in the university report.

A 2012 audit of Foxconn performed by the Fair Labor Association, at the request of Apple Inc., suggested that workplace accidents might be commonplace and that workers may consider overtime pay insufficient.[38]

Crisis management[edit]

During the first two and a half months, which included six of the fourteen deaths from suicide, Foxconn took a "no comment" approach to their business crisis.[39] This left them vulnerable to media attacks, allowing the media to fill in their own information about the suicides.[40] Li and Xu made a statement, in their case study about the business' suicides, that "Foxconn's series of employee suicides were severe events in the mind of the general public, and its 'no comment' strategy led to a more negative perception of its reputation and severe consequences."[39] After the sixth suicide, Liu Kun, a spokesperson for Foxconn, stated that they were handling the crisis.[39] He also started using a "denial strategy" to avoid any blame for the suicides and instead directed the fault at "the victims and societal problems."[39]

One of the ways Foxconn started handling the crisis was to require that employees sign a waiver stating that Foxconn would not be made liable if any individuals were to die by suicide.[41] This, however, caused more troubles for Foxconn and they eventually retracted the document. After they removed the waiver, they installed safety netting around the facility to prevent future suicides.[41] Foxconn also implemented a pay raise from 950 yuan to 1200 yuan, but they in turn increased their quota by twenty percent as well.[42] Lastly, Foxconn opened their doors to two-hundred journalists.[39] Foxconn informed the writers that they were taking extra steps for the future; which included safety netting and more help hotlines for employees to be able to call.[39]


The chairman of Foxconn, Terry Gou, made the following statement at a press conference focused on the controversy: "We are certainly not running a sweatshop. We are confident we'll be able to stabilize the situation soon. A manufacturing team of 800,000 people is very difficult to manage." At the time of the company's press conference, the factory complex where the deaths occurred employed up to 300,000 people.[32][43]

In response to the suicides, Foxconn substantially increased wages for its Shenzhen factory workforce,[44] installed suicide-prevention netting,[45] brought in Buddhist monks to conduct prayer sessions[35] and asked employees to sign no-suicide pledges.[46] Workers were also required to sign a legally-binding document guaranteeing that they and their descendants would not sue the company as a result of unexpected death, self-injury or suicide.[citation needed]


SACOM protests in 2013 at the opening of the first Apple Store in Hong Kong over labor rights violations in its supplier factories Foxconn and Wintek.[47]

In May 2010, the Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour (SACOM) group held a protest in the lobby of Foxconn's Hong Kong headquarters. Around 25 protestors laid mannequins to rest and conducted funeral rites, while a spokesperson informed the media and onlookers: "We are staging the protest because of the high death rate [at Foxconn], with an abnormal number of workers committing suicide in the past five months".[43] Activists from the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions were also present and held signs that read "Foxconn lacks a conscience" and "Suicide is no accident". They also burned cardboard cutouts resembling iPhones.[32]

The family of Ma Xianqian, one of the dead workers, protested outside the Foxconn factory. On 28 May 2010, demonstrators protested outside Hon Hai's Taipei headquarters laying flowers for those who had died at the Foxconn plant. Taiwanese unions and labor activists were also present at the Taipei protest and displayed banners that displayed Chinese text that translates into English as: "For wealth and power—physical and mental health spent, hopes lost" and "For profit of the brand—youth spent, dreams shattered".[48]

On 8 June 2010, the date of Foxconn's Annual General Meeting, student protesters from SACOM, Hong Kong labor unions and rights groups demonstrated outside a Hong Kong Apple store.[48]

A small group of young organizers picketed at an Apple store in San Francisco on 17 June 2010. The protesters carried placards showing the names and ages of the dead workers.[48]


ABC News[49] and The Economist[50] both conducted comparisons and found that although the number of workplace suicides at Foxconn was large in absolute terms, the suicide rate was actually lower than the overall suicide rate of China[51] or the United States.[52] According to a 2011 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report, China had a high suicide rate with approximately 22.23 deaths per 100,000 persons.[53] In 2010, the company's employee count was a reported 930,000 people.[54]

Labor activists stated the suicides supported their assertion that numerous labor abuses take place at Foxconn.[32] Economic conditions external to the company also might have been influential; during the same year, several major strike actions at other high-profile manufacturers occurred in China, and the Lewis turning-point is a macro-economic factor that might provide context for the events. If the above factors are true, it shows that there could be inconsistency between Foxconn's labor conditions and any progress in China's economy.[55]

However, one expert claimed that employees were treated comparatively well at Foxconn. Boy Lüthje, of Germany's Institute of Social Research, told The Economist that the company pays a minimum monthly wage of 900 yuan (US$130) as well as providing free recreational facilities, food, and lodging for employees at some of its factory complexes.[56] Overtime, however, may be routinely demanded.[57]


The Foxconn suicides have become the basis of works including the song Chairman Gou by James Supercave. The song mentions two persons involved in the incident, Chairman Terry Gou and Lu Xin. The content of the song is specifically referencing the suicide of 24 year old Chinese rural migrant worker Lu Xin, who committed suicide at the Shenzhen factory on 6 May 2010, certified dead onsite. By the end of May, CEO Terry Gou brought in psychiatrists to offer advice to depressed workers over phone and installed “safety nets” to deter employees from jumping off a building.[58][59] This is reflected in the lines "Hire a hundred telephones/To talk the kids out of meaninglessness" and "Pay the right man to build a suicide net".[60]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Paul Mozur (19 December 2012). "Life Inside Foxconn's Facility in Shenzhen". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 21 December 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Jason Dean (27 May 2010). "Apple, H-P to Examine Asian Supplier After String of Deaths at Factory". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 29 May 2010.
  3. ^ "[血债二]2007年6月18日 富士康一名女工在厕所上吊自杀-百度和讯财经网". Retrieved 30 May 2010.
  4. ^ "富士康员工意外事件频发_新民网_为民分忧 与民同乐". Retrieved 30 May 2010.
  5. ^ He, Huifeng (28 July 2009). "Payout over man's iPhone suicide". South China Morning Post.
  6. ^ a b IPhone Maker in China Is Under Fire After a Suicide The New York Times, 26 July 2009
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Eastweek magazine. Vol 334. 6 June 2010 issue. pg 13.
  8. ^ "" 富士康馬向前系墜亡 警方不予立案. Retrieved on 2010-10-10.
  9. ^ a b c d e f " Archived 21 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine." 深陷「跳樓門」富士康首度檢討. Retrieved on 2010-10-10.
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  11. ^ Behind the shiny screen, 14 December 2010
  12. ^ " Archived 28 September 2012 at the Wayback Machine." 富士康重點培訓幹部 盧新無法忘情音樂選擇自殺. Retrieved on 2010-10-10.
  13. ^ " Archived 18 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine." 家屬稱梁超是"被自殺". Retrieved on 2010-10-10.
  14. ^ " Archived 21 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine." 富士康員工最怕領導罵 曾被告知跳樓賠10萬. Retrieved on 2010-10-10.
  15. ^ "" 富士康發生今年"第11跳" 死者宿舍內留下遺書. Retrieved on 2010-10-10.
  16. ^ " Archived 30 May 2010 at the Wayback Machine." 富士康第12跳確認為自殺. Retrieved on 2010-10-10.
  17. ^ "Another Foxconn worker falls to death in China". BBC News. 20 July 2010.
  18. ^ a b "Worker Death Tally Rises at Foxconn China". ABC News. 21 July 2010. Retrieved 21 July 2010.
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  25. ^ a b "Cna English News". 19 July 2011. Retrieved 5 August 2011.
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  27. ^ Jim, Clare (14 June 2012). "Foxconn says plant worker jumps from apartment". Thomson Reuters. Retrieved 14 June 2012.
  28. ^ Moore, Malcolm (11 January 2012). "'Mass suicide' protest at Apple manufacturer Foxconn factory". The Daily Telegraph.
  29. ^ "Two more suicides at Foxconn - China News - SINA English".
  30. ^ Latest Foxconn Worker Deaths Build Case for Apple to Move Operations from China. Retrieved 28 August 2016
  31. ^ Fullerton, Jamie (7 January 2018). "Suicide at Chinese iPhone factory reignites concern over working conditions". The Telegraph.
  32. ^ a b c d William Foreman (26 May 2010). "Tech: Apple Supplier Foxconn Suffers 10th Death This Year, Asks Workers To Sign Anti-Suicide Pledge". HuffPost. Retrieved 20 December 2014.
  33. ^ "Apple under fire again for working conditions at Chinese factories". The Guardian. 19 December 2014. Retrieved 20 December 2014.
  34. ^ Tam, Fiona (11 October 2010). "Foxconn factories are labour camps: report". South China Morning Post.
  35. ^ a b "Suicides at Foxconn Light and death". The Economist. The Economist Newspaper Limited. 27 May 2010. Retrieved 20 December 2014.
  36. ^ "富士康管治双重标准 员工有冤上诉无门". Archived from the original on 21 September 2010. Retrieved 12 August 2010.
  37. ^ Moore, Malcolm (16 May 2010). "What has triggered the suicide cluster at Foxconn? – Telegraph Blogs". The Daily Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on 18 May 2010. Retrieved 9 July 2010.
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  39. ^ a b c d e f Li, W; Xu, K (1 October 2013). "An Ethical Stakeholder Approach to Crisis Communication: A Case Study of Foxconn's 2010 Employee Suicide Crisis". Journal of Business Ethics. 117 (2): 371–386. doi:10.1007/s10551-012-1522-0. S2CID 153590623.
  40. ^ Carroll, Archie; Buchholtz, Ann (2012). Business and Society. Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning. p. 168.
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  43. ^ a b Malcolm Moore (25 May 2010). "Protest at Chinese iPad maker Foxconn after 11th suicide attempt this year". The Telegraph. Retrieved 20 December 2014.
  44. ^ Foxconn suspends operation at a facility in India, Mon 26 July 2010
  45. ^ Foxconn Rallies Workers, Leaves Suicide Nets in Place (Updated)'s Epicenter blog, 18 August 2010
  46. ^ "Chinese Factory asks for 'no suicide' vow". NBC News. 26 May 2010. Retrieved 26 May 2010.
  47. ^ "Activists push Apple over work conditions". South China Morning Post. 27 February 2013. Retrieved 25 December 2022.
  48. ^ a b c Jenny Chan, Ngai Pun. "Suicide as Protest for the New Generation of Chinese Migrant Workers: Foxconn, Global Capital, and the State". The Asia-Pacific Journal. Retrieved 20 December 2014.
  49. ^ A Trip to The iFactory: 'Nightline' Gets an Unprecedented Glimpse Inside Apple's Chinese Core, ABC News, 20 February 2012, page 3
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  53. ^ "China's suicide rate 'among highest in world'". Agence France-Presse. Archived from the original on 26 September 2013.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  54. ^ "Foxcon Plans To Increase China Workforce to 1.3 Million". Focus Taiwan News Channel. 19 August 2010. Retrieved 19 August 2010.
  55. ^ For other 2010 strikes, see "Strikes signal end to cheap labor". China Daily. 3 June 2010. Archived from the original on 6 June 2010. Retrieved 25 June 2010.
  56. ^ "Don't Mean To Be Rude, But Suicide Rate at Apple's iPad-Maker Foxconn Is Lower Than All 50 U.S. States". Business Insider. 26 May 2010. Retrieved 5 April 2019.
  57. ^ Condliffe, Jamie (11 June 2018). "Foxconn Is Under Scrutiny for Worker Conditions. It's Not the First Time". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  58. ^ "Chairman Gou". Dying for an iPhone. 30 March 2020. Retrieved 18 April 2023.
  59. ^ SongMeanings. "James Supercave - Chairman Gou Lyrics". SongMeanings. Retrieved 18 April 2023.
  60. ^ James Supercave – Chairman Gou, retrieved 18 April 2023

External links[edit]