Violent protests over COVID-19 controls and pay erupt at world’s largest iPhone plant


Protesters and police clashed Tuesday and Wednesday at Foxconn's plant in Zhengzhou, China
Protesters and police clashed Tuesday and Wednesday at Foxconn's plant in Zhengzhou, China
Photo illustration: Cult of Mac

Protests over unpaid bonuses, anti-COVID-19 controls and even food quality led police to clash with hundreds of workers at the world’s largest iPhone factory in China, reports indicated Wednesday.

Social media videos and witnesses in Zhengzhou, where Foxconn operates a giant factory nicknamed “iPhone City,” said police beat and detained protesters.

Protesters clash with police at Foxconn iPhone plant in Zhengzhou, China

Approximately 200,000 workers assemble iPhones at the Foxconn plant in Zhengzhou. The company has been struggling to keep them on site, where they live and work in a “closed loop” system designed to combat the spread of COVID-19. Workers’ growing frustrations over conditions at the massive plant erupted into violence this week.

In the protests that broke out Tuesday and bled into Wednesday morning, many people in masks faced off with rows of police in white protective suits wielding riot shields, according to the Associated Press.

Some workers accused Foxconn of bait-and-switch tactics with regard to bonuses offered to attract new employees.

“Foxconn released very tempting recruiting offers, and workers from all parts of the country came, only to find they were being made fools of,” employee Li Sanshan told the AP.

China’s ‘zero-COVID’ policy affects Foxconn factories

China’s “zero-COVID” strategy has led the country into extended lockdowns and more-severe safety protocols than many other countries. But the Communist government has said it will try to shorten quarantines, among other changes.

Still, COVID-19 cases hit a record high in the country this week, according to the South China Morning Post. On Wednesday, China reported 28,883 COVID-19 cases in the previous 24 hours. This week saw the country’s first deaths from the disease in six months, AP reported.

The Foxconn protests follow a major walk-out by employees at the plant last month. Apple warned in early this month that COVID-related disruptions at Chinese factories would lead to short supplies of some iPhone models during the holiday shopping season.

Videos below show the protests and clashes with police unfolding.


Daily round-ups or a weekly refresher, straight from Cult of Mac to your inbox.

  • The Weekender

    The week's best Apple news, reviews and how-tos from Cult of Mac, every Saturday morning. Our readers say: "Thank you guys for always posting cool stuff" -- Vaughn Nevins. "Very informative" -- Kenly Xavier.