December 4, 2022

(FILES) In this September 7, 2016 file photo, the Apple logo can be seen on the exterior of the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium before the start of an event in San Francisco, California. – According to a statement from Qualcomm on December 10, 2018, a Chinese court ordered a ban on iPhone sales in the country in a patent dispute between US chipmaker Qualcomm and Apple. The statement said the Fuzhou Intermediate People’s Court granted Qualcomm’s request for two preliminary injunctions against four Apple subsidiaries ordering them to stop selling the iPhone 6S, iPhone 6S Plus, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X to be discontinued immediately. (Photo by Josh Edelson / AFP)

Videos showed hundreds of workers marching down a street in daylight, with some confronted by a line of people in hazmat suits and riot police.

Another clip from a livestream video showed dozens of workers facing a line of police officers and a police vehicle with blue lights flashing at night, shouting, “Defend our rights! Defend our rights!”

A worker dragged a metal barricade across the ground while the streamer in the background said, as plumes of smoke billowed from the vehicle: “They’re rushing in! smoke bombs! tear gas!”

A photo taken during the day showed the charred remains of a gate that appeared to have burned down during the night.

The Weibo hashtag “Foxconn Riots” appeared to have been censored by midday Wednesday, while some text posts related to large-scale protests at the Foxconn factory remained live.

Foxconn, also known by its official name Hon Hai Precision Industry, is the world’s largest contract electronics manufacturer, assembling devices for many international brands.

Foxconn, Apple’s main subcontractor, has seen a spike in Covid-19 cases at its Zhengzhou site in recent months, prompting the company to shut down the huge complex to keep the virus at bay.

Panicked workers then fled the site en masse on foot after allegations of poor conditions at the facility, which employs hundreds of thousands of workers.

Foxconn is China’s largest private-sector employer, with over a million people working in about 30 factories and research institutes nationwide.

Zhengzhou is the crown jewel of the Taiwanese company, producing iPhones in quantities unseen anywhere else.

The company did not immediately respond to an AFP request for comment on the unrest.