Apple iPod ‘sweatshop’ story a ‘poorly researched sensationalist article’

“Technology made in China has a bad reputation overseas because it is often believed to be of poor quality. And foreign factories operating in China also are held in low esteem because they are believed to be exploiting lowly Chinese workers,” Perry Wu reports for ChinaTechNews. “A breaking story from a British newspaper about Apple Computer’s factories in China does nothing to diminish either of these prejudices.”

“Britain’s Mail on Sunday newspaper last week said that workers in Chinese factories that produce the popular iPod are poorly paid and not allowed access to outsiders,” Wu reports. “The paper also says the factories are not directly owned by Apple, but are instead run by Foxconn. Either way, the paper suggests, and I agree, that Apple is ultimately responsible for what happens at the factories that manufacture its goods.”

“In response to the article, Apple says it, ‘does not tolerate any violations of its supplier code of conduct which are posted online.’ I’m no fan of big corporations bullying workers. But I am also no friend to shoddy, sensationalist journalism. This article smacks of hyperbolic journalism in an almost ‘laowai/nongmin jin cheng’ sort of way,” Wu writes.

“Workers live in dormitories? Good for them. I’ve worked in the offices of Chinese companies that also give white-collar workers dormitories–and they provide showers,” Wu writes. “And the workers toil in “a five-storey factory that is secured by police officers”? Is that to keep the workers inside or the hoi polloi outside? Maybe they are police officers, but chances are good the journalist made a common ‘laowai’ mistake and assumed that the ‘bao’an,’ or rent-a-cop security officers, were instead ‘jingcha,’ or official police.”

“Corporate social responsibility is important to any company operating in China. But the same type of ethics extend to newspapers who wish to antagonize for no other reason than to attract eyeballs,” Wu writes. “If I sound like an apologist for Apple, let me tell you that I never bought into their iPod fad and I think they will always be a we-had-a-large-market-share-in-the-eighties company. And if I sound like an apologist for China, let me tell you that there’s nothing better than waking each morning and looking at my American passport.”

Wu writes, “But what I do not like is ignorance, and poorly researched sensationalist articles do nothing to make the world a better place. If Apple does terrorize its workers, give us better reasons to believe. And if they don’t, the journalist should be fired and the paper should apologize to the security guard for interrupting his nap time.”

More in the full article, including criticism of lopsided buying power between China and the West, here.

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Related articles:
Apple rebuts Chinese iPod factory claims – June 13, 2006
iPods made in Chinese sweatshops? – June 13, 2006


  1. Remember, as the liberals (and/or main stream media) believe, it’s more important to have serious allegations than the truth. This is very serious allegations!

    Al, stop saving the world and come home and save Apple, they need you!

    Somehow this is going to be George W Bush’s fault.


  2. WMD,

    I may be stupid and not read or nuthin’ but I know a troll when I see one, and I don’t need your non-thinking right wing support to stay in office. But thank you anyway. If it weren’t for people like you bullying those weak, message-lacking liberals, the world would be a place where the poor could get a decent-paying job, health care and a fair chance at that illusion we call “The American Dream.” Billionaires salute your syncophantic support!


    GWB esq.

  3. All British newspapers suck. Even the venerable Times just “makes stuff up”. When I used to live in England, I complained to some of the (very unpleasant) people I worked with, “You can’t believe anything written in a UK newspaper!” Brits would respond by shrugging their shoulders and say, “Its the same in the US!”

    But thats not true. Occasionally, some US reporter gets canned from making stuff up, but reputable US newspapers don’t just ‘make stuff up’.

  4. wmd, the Daily Mail is hardly liberal. According to its Wikipedia entry, this is the paper that supported Facism in the 30’s, supported Hitler up to 1939, is presently “anti-European, anti-immigration, and anti-abortion”. In fact, the whole “liberal media” notion is a myth propogated by the Republican party in the US, and the Conservative party in the UK (Years ago, Republican party chair Rich Bond explained that conservatives’ frequent denunciations of ‘liberal bias’ in the media were part of ‘a strategy’ (Washington Post, 8/20/92).)

    You might wish to read this academic discussion of the topic:

    Then again, you might not….

  5. Mail on Sunday is an asswipe that holds stories about royalty above stories about REAL ISSUES.

    Typical story from a terrible rag. Daily Mail & Mail On Sunday are not worth the paper they’re printed on.

  6. Bigotry is very easy to identify. It takes the written or spoken form of “All members of this group have this common trait.”

    All media is …..
    All liberals are …..
    All Democrats are ….
    All Gays are ….

    If you think, say or write lines like this, especially to inflame the emotions of other Neanderthalic thinkers as yourself, to avoid logical thought or facts, then you are one of the worst cancers of a society.

    No, this article has nothing to do with Bush. He doesn’t bother himself with such trivial damage when he is a major contributor to global destruction. You MUST see “An Inconvenient Truth”!!

  7. It isn’t just big national/foreign newspapers that can’t seem to get their priorities straight. The front page headline on Sunday morning several times each fall in my local paper is the win or loss of one of the local college (US)football teams. There could be a real disaster somewhere (as has actually been the case on more than one occasion), but a win or loss for the team gets World War III-type headlines.

    I suspect, though, it’s less the paper’s fault than the dunderhead reader base the paper is catering to.

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