Workers at Apple factory in Shanghai revolt against draconian COVID measures

Workers at Apple factory in Shanghai revolt against draconian COVID measures

Workers at a factory in Shanghai revolted following weeks under draconian measures to curb the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19). Footage that went viral on Chinese social media showed staff members at the Quanta Computer Inc. factory in the city’s Songjiang district storming protective barriers and fighting against security officers.

Based on the videos, several frustrated employees at the facility scuffled with security on May 5 after they were prohibited from leaving. Other videos captured the security guards clad in white Tyvek suits failing to catch workers who jumped over protective barriers. Tensions died down on the morning of May 6.

Quanta, a major supplier for tech giant Apple, manufactures computing and mobile devices such as MacBook Pro laptops at the Songjiang factory. Authorities in Shanghai allowed the factory to continue operations provided that it followed a “closed-loop” system. Under the system, Quanta workers were required to sleep at accommodations located near the factory instead of going to their homes.

Workers done for the day were trying to return to their dormitories to rest, but security staff refused to let them leave – leading to the chaotic scenario. The aftermath of the riot impacted the factory’s MacBook Pro output, with the site operating at 30 percent capacity.

Another major Apple supplier found its operations crippled by COVID-19 lockdowns. Taiwanese company Foxconn shut down two of its factories in the city of Kunshan, located at the coastal Jiangsu province. Officials at the city 32 miles east of Shanghai confirmed the shutdowns at the two plants, adding that operations there had been suspended since April 20 after several workers tested positive for COVID-19.

Foxconn workers assigned at the Kunshan factories were taken by surprise by the shutdown announcement, alongside the news that they would be put under strict lockdown. They initially thought the closed-loop system would allow them to continue operations until the news broke out. Unlike Quanta, Foxconn shuttled its workers between the factory and company-provided dormitories.

Business as usual for other Apple-linked factories in China

The closed-loop system implemented in factories aligns with Beijing’s zero-COVID strategy. Implemented since the pandemic’s onset in March 2020, the Chinese central government has imposed stringent quarantine measures such as hard and repeated lockdowns in various cities to curb COVID-19 transmission. The tyrannical COVID mandates had sparked pushbacks from frustrated citizens.

Fortunately, these disruptions did not impact Foxconn’s operations in other locations in China. The Taiwanese firm runs two factories in the southeastern province of Guangdong. One is located in the city of Dongguan while the other dubbed “Foxconn City” is located at Shenzhen, the so-called Silicon Valley of China.

After initially shutting down operations for two days, Foxconn City resumed operations by adhering to the closed-loop system and isolating their workers from the outside world. Employees were shuttled between the factory and company-owned worker dormitories, avoiding contact with outsiders. Foxconn also provided regular COVID-19 tests to its workers.

Jimmy Huang, acting spokesman for Foxconn, confirmed to Al Jazeera on April 25 that manufacturing operations in the Shenzhen facility are proceeding as usual. The closed-loop system in place at the Kunshan and Shenzhen factories was later implemented at the Dongguan factory.

According to a subsequent statement by Foxconn, production has been shifted to other facilities around China to address its weakened supply chains.

“As production has previously been deployed to backup factories, [Foxconn’s] main products are located in overseas shipping [warehouses] and inventory levels are still sufficient; [thus], the impact on the company’s business is limited,” said the statement. has more stories about Chinese citizens pushing back against draconian zero-COVID mandates.

Watch Del Bigtree and Jefferey Jaxen talking about the Shanghai lockdown on “The HighWire.”

This video is from The HighWire with Del Bigtree channel on

(Article by Ramon Tomey republished from

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