China’s ‘IPhone city’ abruptly dismisses 870 employees


China’s Zhengzhou, also known as “iPhone City,” relocated 870 workers to a hub about 230 miles away in a neighbouring province without informing them of the measure to reduce Covid transmission.

The workers were transported to Xuzhou in Jiangsu province early Friday “without prior communication,” according to a statement posted on the city’s official WeChat account on Saturday. It was not stated whether any of the individuals tested positive.

Zhengzhou, home to Apple Inc.’s largest iPhone manufacturing site, rose to global prominence after videos on social media showed hundreds of workers engaged in violent clashes fueled by rage over unpaid wages and fears of virus infections. Foxconn Technology Group, Apple’s main global manufacturing partner, later began offering 10,000 yuan ($1,395) to any worker who chose to leave.

According to the Xuzhou city statement, the majority of the people have since been transferred to other locations via a so-called closed-loop arrangement. The remaining people were placed in another pandemic bubble system that limited their contact with the outside world. The individuals were all former employees of a “key enterprise” in Zhengzhou’s airport economic zone, according to the report, which did not specify which enterprise. A Foxconn representative did not respond to questions after business hours on Saturday.

Zhengzhou declared a five-day lockdown of its major urban areas earlier this week in order to contain a growing outbreak. While the district where Foxconn is located was not included in the “mobility controls,” the iPhone plant is in an area already classified as high risk, which means lockdown-like movement restrictions remain in place.

According to Xuzhou, local Covid risks are manageable, and citizens must now present a negative test result within 48 hours of entering public venues, down from 72 hours previously.