China's 'iPhone City' Locks Down As Workers Flee Factory Amid Zero Covid Chaos

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by Tyler Durden
Wednesday, Nov 02, 2022 - 11:50 PM

A week-long lockdown was implemented around the world's largest iPhone factory in the central Chinese city of Zhengzhou. Beijing is ramping up its zero Covid policy despite internet rumors suggesting otherwise, only to be proven false this morning.

Zhengzhou officials posted a statement on WeChat stating that the lockdown in the metro area would last through November 9. 

It [memo on WeChat] ordered people and vehicles off the streets except for medical or other essential reasons, a prohibition that threatens to cut off the flow of additional workers and components needed to rev up production ahead of the holiday-season crush. --Bloomberg

The lockdown could significantly impact Foxconn's largest iPhone factory, producing four of five of Apple's latest handsets. 

Last month, Foxconn closed off the factory of 200,000 employees to the outside world due to an outbreak of infections, embracing a "closed loop" system, where workers live on campus and are prohibited from physical contact with the outside world – including family members.

As a result of the lockdowns, cafeterias at the manufacturing site were shut down, and workers on assembly lines were given "meal boxes." Some employees have remained locked down in their dormitories and were given only instant noodles. Unrest is rising at the factory as workers are fed up with cramped living and working conditions. 

There have also been reports of workers escaping from the factory. WaPo interviewed one worker named "Zhuo," 19, who was among hundreds of others that busted out. 

On Friday, Zhuo decided to make a run for it. He climbed a seven-foot wall, ducked under a fence through a hole dug out by workers who fled before him and walked almost 15 miles before getting a ride from a passerby.

"There were around 200 of us that evening. It was like a prison break movie," Zhuo said by phone from a quarantine hotel near his home in Henan province. Zhuo did not give his full name out of security concerns.

The lockdown of the surrounding area and chaos in and around the factory comes as Apple just launched the iPhone 14. 

Counterpoint senior analyst Ivan Lam said the factory is responsible for 80% of iPhone 14 production and 85% of iPhone 14 Pro production. 

There have been no reports of disruptions yet, and the factory is supposedly well-supplied with components to operate "for a while," according to Bloomberg. 

No wonder a growing number of US companies with manufacturing facilities in China are looking to rejigger supply chains elsewhere. What a mess China has become under zero Covid policies.