This is interesting. If you looked at the inside pages of the Wall Street Journal today, you saw a valuable story from China about the challenges facing an Apple subcontractor called Hon Hai Precision Industry. And in case you missed the name, I've highlighted the 20-odd places where Hon Hai is used in the story plus accompanying map and captions.
- Foxconn, the name you have come to know and love;
- Hon Hai, its "real" name, written as 鸿海 in the simplified Chinese characters used in the mainland and 鴻海 in the traditional characters used in the company's home base of Taiwan;
- 富士康, or Fushikang [approx 'Foxconn'], which is what the Chinese characters over its factory gates say.
To me this is interesting, as opposed to "mattering" in any heavy-weather way. The interest is that someone at the Journal has apparently decided that the paper is going to tough-love its readership into using proper Chinese names for foreign companies -- at the obvious expense of short- and medium-term comprehensibility. That is: if you were scanning the paper for news about Foxconn and saw a map with "Hon Hai Production Sites," odds are that for most Americans the synapses wouldn't fire.
Introducing robots into the production of many consumer electronics would be inefficient because of their short production cycles, said Hon Hai spokesman Louis Woo. "By the time you are familiar or stabilize the process it is already the end of the product [manufacturing cycle]. Then there is another product coming up," he said.
Again, I am noting-for-the-record this aspect of the Journal's story, rather than complaining about it. I am thinking, though, that I need to change the title of my own article. Obviously the updated version should be: "Mr. Zhongguo Comes to America.""The younger generation of workers these days, they don't want to continue to do boring, mundane, repetitive work, especially in the manufacturing sector," he said. "We have to begin to add more value in the process, otherwise it will be difficult to attract a young generation of workers."