Inside Foxconn #3: Some Dormitories

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The current workforce at Foxconn's Longhua site is around 220,000, of whom about one-quarter stay on-site in dormitories. Obviously I didn't see all the dormitories, but I saw some, from inside and out. Here's a look. Previous Foxconn installments here and here. For context, remember: this is the hyper-secretive, highly controversial company that makes so many of the smartphones, computers, tablets, and other devices that you use.

From above. From the roof of one dorm, looking out to several others. They're the angled buildings.

FoxconnDorm1.jpg



From in front
. I saw two pools by dormitories. This is one, which I was told was "standard length," or 50 meters. There was no one in or around it during the working shift when I was there. I was told it was used mainly at night and on weekends.

FoxConndDorm2.jpg

From inside a hall. The row of doors in an engineers' dorm.

Foxconndorm3.jpg


A bunk unit
. The building I saw included rooms with four bunk units per room. In each the bed is on top, desk and closet area below.

FoxConnDorm4.jpg

Four people were living in this room; I saw their clothes in the closets and some other goods and laundry on a porch area. I was told that in other dorms for assembly-line workers, which I didn't see, there would be not four but six or eight bunks per room. I have seen enough similar places at other factories and schools to imagine that.

Here is a badly lit picture to give you the idea of how four bunk units fit. You see two bunks on the right; two others are on the left. The porch area is in the rear.

FoxConnDorm7.jpg


The "break room." A TV-viewing area in the same engineers' dorm. This was, frankly, the most prison-looking scene I came across during the day. (Well, apart from the surveillance-camera room, but that is coming next.) But I also know that this kind of plainly square room layout is typical of many Chinese schools, offices, and so on.

Foxconndorm6.jpg  
More to come.

UPDATE: I am hearing from many people in America, "this looks tough." I am hearing from many people who have seen other Chinese factories, "this looks pretty good." More on this too -- and while I'm saving "what it all means" comments for later, I'll say that I've seen enough other Chinese factories, rural schools, villages and so on to recognize that these are on the higher end of the spectrum. Again, for context, please see these pictures in combination with the first two installments.
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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.
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