Your smartphone, your laptop, your iPad, were probably made in China. Same with your Kindle, your PC, just about any high-tech consumer electronics item. And they were very likely built by a company called Foxconn. It has almost a million employees spread over multiple facilities. Most of those employees come from rural parts of China to live and work long hours in enormous factory campuses.
Foxconn has come under scrutiny recently. First, because of a rash of worker suicides. And because as the Chinese economy grows, it’s harder to find factory workers, prompting wage increases. There’s also been talk of moving much of the manufacturing operations to new factories in rural areas of China, in order to save money.
We’ve been looking closely at Foxconn for a while now (and are planning further coverage of where your personal electronics have been before they ever make it to the American shelf).
Recently, the results of a massive undercover survey of Foxconn workers were announced. We talk to Alexandra Harney about what that survey revealed. Harney is the author of “The China Price” and a former reporter for Financial Times. She joins us from Marketplace’s bureau in Shanghai.
Also in this show, Sony has announced that the Walkman is no longer being built. Beyond the obvious question (Walkmans were still being built?!), we wanted to know what songs our listeners would miss most hearing on the revolutionary-at-the-time cassette player.