Huge protests break out over conditions at world’s biggest iPhone factory in China

Protests broke out at Foxconn’s iPhone factory in Zhengzhou in central China, according to videos and images shared on social media, as authorities cities reimposed more Covid curbs to rein in rising cases.

Hundreds of workers were seen marching on a road with some being confronted by the riot police. Many workers complained of poor working conditions, including the “terrible” food they had been provided, while others said that their long overdue bonuses had not been paid.

The Zhengzhou plant is the world’s largest iPhone factory with some 200,000 workers.

Videos shared on Weibo and Twitter also showed workers getting beaten up and detained after confronting management about contract issues.

This comes as China imposed several Covid restrictions in the wake of a rising number of positive cases. Earlier this week, authorities reported Covid deaths for the first time in six months.

Protesters from the factory can also be seen spraying the police with fire extinguisher foam in the videos shared on social media.

The factory operator, Foxconn Technology Group, said earlier it was using “closed-loop management”, which refers to employees living at their workplace with no outside contact.

The protests follow a walk-out last month during which thousands of employees demonstrated over complaints about inadequate anti-virus protection and a lack of help for workers who fell ill, according to the Associated Press.

The city government suspended access to an industrial zone that surrounds the factory.

This isn’t the first time the workers of the Foxconn factory have staged a massive protest. Last month, Foxconn workers left the factory en masse to avoid Covid-19 curbs.

The videos from the time showed them carrying bags of belongings and leaving by foot, with some volunteers leaving food and water on the streets for the workers.

According to AFP, one video taken from a livestream of Wednesday’s protests showed dozens of workers at night shouting, “Defend our rights!” as they confronted a row of police officers and a police vehicle with flashing lights.

Meanwhile, the topic of Foxconn worker protests has been restricted on Weibo, according to the editor-in-chief of What’s On Weibo, Manya Koetse. She wrote on Twitter: “As the topic is restricted on Weibo, some wonder if they were shooting a movie there.”

In another tweet, she wrote: “Censorship and self-censorship make it hard to find out exactly what’s going on.”

Areas accounting for nearly one-fifth of China’s total economic output are under some form of Covid lockdown or curbs, estimates suggest.

Even though infection numbers are low by global standards, China has stuck with its zero-Covid approach, a signature policy of president Xi Jinping that officials say prevents the medical system from being overwhelmed.

China reported 28,883 new domestically transmitted cases for Tuesday.