China’s latest COVID-19 lockdown hits major iPhone factory

China’s latest COVID-19 lockdown hits major iPhone factory

A COVID-19 The outbreak at the largest iPhone manufacturing plant in Zhengzhou, China, has forced some factory workers to self-quarantine, part of a city-wide outbreak that has also led to the closure of shops and hotels near the factory. factory.

foxconna major manufacturer of Appleconfirmed in a statement to The New York Times on Thursday that a “small number of employees” had been asked to self-quarantine, but declined to comment on details of the outbreak.

Foxconn, headquartered in TaiwanHe said efforts to control the outbreak were “progressing steadily” and quarantined employees were receiving what they needed, including “material supplies, psychological comfort and responsive feedback.”

The outbreak comes at an inopportune time for Apple and Foxconn, which is now making the new iPhone 14. Foxconn said production and operations were “relatively stable” and production estimates for the three-month period from October to December “would remain unchanged.” .”

This part of the year is usually a critical period for iPhones. Last year, about a third of the $192 billion in iPhone sales were generated in the holiday period alone, according to Apple. The phone helped boost total revenue by 8% in the latest quarter, the company reported Thursday.

Called “iPhone City” by locals, Zhengzhou is a city of 6 million people in inland China. It is a central artery in the production of Apple’s iPhone, which produces about half of Apple’s global supply, according to Ming-Chi Kuo, an analyst at TF International Securities, a financial services group.

“What if this affects other Chinese cities where Apple has supply chains?” he said. “It’s definitely something for Apple to consider in the medium to long term.”

apple has production moved of some of its next-generation iPhones to India, a move in response to growing awareness of the increased risks caused by the concentration of manufacturing in a single country.

The Zhengzhou city government said neighborhoods in several of the city’s 12 districts are under some kind of restrictions.

Those restrictions were imposed in the context of last week’s Communist Party congress that extended Xi Jinping’s leadership for a third term in defiance of precedent. Under Xi’s leadership, China has been left with a zero tolerance approach to the pandemic, marked by mass testing, harsh lockdowns and quarantines, which has shut down entire cities due to a handful of cases. Some people have had trouble getting food and others have been confined for weeks in poorly built isolation facilities.

Gao Mingjun, 24, a Zhengzhou resident, said her mother and aunt have been quarantined in their bedrooms at the Foxconn Zhengzhou factory for weeks.

“I haven’t seen my mom in over a month,” he said, adding: “Basically there are no pros, but they are all faults” with the pandemic restrictions.

Although financial markets have signaled unease with China’s economic slowdown, local governments have stuck to Xi’s playbook. In his opening speech at the congress, Xi reiterated his commitment to China’s pandemic policy and described the fight against COVID-19 as a “total war.”

Several other cities have been battling outbreaks in recent weeks, including Wuhan, where the virus first appeared; Lanzhou, in Gansu province; and Xining in the northwestern province of Qinghai. The latest viral wave, which reached 993 cases on Thursday, followed earlier outbreaks in early October in western Xinjiang and southern Hainan, among other places, when daily cases hit 1,400.

The lockdown in Zhengzhou began early last week when people in more than a dozen neighborhoods in the central Zhongyuan district, west of the Foxconn factory, were told to stay home, according to an official statement. By Tuesday, images and videos of an outbreak inside Foxconn had broken out on social media, sparking outrage from Chinese internet users who accused the company of not being transparent and downplaying the situation. The hashtag #ZhengzhouFoxconn briefly trended on Weibo, a popular social media platform in China.

But some online commentators were relieved that the news finally broke. The posts revealed food shortages and other necessities inside the workers’ dormitories.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

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