China orders Zhengzhou Covid lockdowns after iPhone factory protests
Beijing, Nov 24 (EFE).- A five-day Covid-19 lockdown has been ordered for eight districts of the Chinese city of Zhengzhou, where a sprawling iPhone factory complex has been the scene of violent protests in recent days.
Health authorities will start an “epidemic prevention and control annihilation battle” on Friday at 00:00 local time (16:00 GMT on Thursday) in the main urban areas of the city due to an increase in Covid-19 cases, the local government reported.
Residents of central Zhengzhou will require a negative test and permission from local authorities to leave the lockdown areas, although they are advised not to leave their homes unless necessary.
Reactions to the news on the country’s social media networks, such as Weibo, were immediate and mostly questioned whether the confinement will last only five days.
“If you say half a month, I can still believe it. Five days is a dream,” said one Weibo user.
“I saw a lot of young people going home with luggage before the Zhengzhou lockdown, and one young man told me that he didn’t think it would be unconfined in five days so he went home for the new year,” another said.
Foxconn, the Taiwanese company that supplies Apple and is one of the main iPhone contract assemblers, issued a statement after videos of its factory workers violently protesting their working conditions and terms of pay went viral on social media.
The Foxconn plant has been operating in “closed loop” for at least a month, meaning workers cannot leave the facility, and it has scrambled in recent weeks to hire more workers to normalize production and replace the many who have left amid complaints of unsafe working conditions.
The company said that “the allowance has always been fulfilled based on contractual obligation” and that “online speculation of employees who are Covid positive living in the dormitories of the Zhengzhou Park campus is patently untrue.”
“Before new hires move in, the dormitory environment undergoes standard procedures for disinfection, and it is only after the premises passes a government check that new employees are allowed to move in,” the company added.
In addition, it assured that regarding “any violence, the company will continue to communicate with employees and the government to prevent similar incidents from happening again,” in what would appear to be a confirmation of incidents that occurred Wednesday, but censored on the social media networks of the country.
Employees at the plant on Wednesday clashed with police and guards wearing hazmat suits, according to videos posted to platforms such as Twitter, which is banned in China.
Some people in hazmat suits were seen beating and kicking workers as crowds of people rioted.
Since 2020, large factories in China, such as Foxconn’s in Zhengzhou, have responded to outbreaks in nearby areas by establishing a “closed loop,” which isolates workers for long periods inside the facilities to avoid contagion from the outside and maintain production, which has resulted in protests over poor sanitary conditions and lack of food.
China still clings to its Zero Covid policy, which consists of the isolation of all infected and their close contacts, as well as strict border controls, restrictions on movement and mass PCR testing wherever a case is detected. EFE