Back to Foxconn: Cameras, Clinics, Hoops

In a few days, the new issue of the magazine will be out (subscribe!), including my article on some economic and technical trends that are brightening prospects for new manufacturing jobs in .... America itself.

It also discusses my visit to Foxconn, in southern China, early last month. Foxconn is of course the biggest electronics manufacturer in the world. In the past few years it has become famous and infamous for its role as subcontractor for nearly all Apple products, as well as those sold under most other famous North American, European, or Japanese brand names. If you own any kind of electronic device, odds are that some or all of it passed through some Foxconn factory somewhere in China.

When the new issue comes out, will carry a narrated photo gallery of scenes from Foxconn and elsewhere in the vicinity. As a warm-up for that, here is another set of snapshots from Foxconn's Longhua campus in Shenzhen, where some 220,000 people work and more than 50,000 live, as it appeared on a weekday about last month. For past photo visits to Foxconn, check the items collected here. There are all in the mode of quick snapshots rather than a systematic video assessment of the campus. Still, I think cumulatively they are interesting.

Surveillance cameras. The very first stop on my tour was the surveillance room, where the cameras were trained on different parts of the enormous main-cafeteria structure. In the last photo you'll see some cameras trained on the "suicide nets," place outside windows, balconies, and other openings after a rash of jumping-suicides in 2010.

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Two scenes from the food-prep hall. First, a few of the multitude of stir-fry pots used to prepare the day's meals. Then, the biodiesel factory, where (I was told) the left-over cooking oil is made into diesel fuel for use in the factory's boilers. Across China, the handling of left-over cooking oil is a major challenge and occasional scandal -- for instance, when it's collected from gutters or sewers and re-sold. Foxconn made a point of the proper handling of its oil refuse.

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Now, four scenes from the pharmacy and health center. First, the main drug-dispensing area; then, two shots from the acupuncture and 'traditional-medicine" zone; then a dental-hygiene chart. There were people waiting and getting treatment in the clinic, but I didn't think I should take pictures of them.

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Hoops. A view out a dormitory window to one of the sports fields.

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More to come.

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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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