First two further points of context:
- Since some people have asked, the arrangement for me to go into Foxconn happened at very short notice. It was my idea. I made an "I'm sure there's no chance this could work, but I figure I might as well ask ... " request, through someone I knew, in Shenzhen on a Wednesday afternoon. We worked out the ground rules about not photographing brand-name logos on the production lines or shipping docks; they said OK; and I left for the factory at 9am on Thursday morning.
Of course there was incalculably more that I didn't see than I did. But -- having been on a number of cherry-picked tours over the years -- I didn't get the sense that very much of this could have been Potemkinized, just for reasons of scale. Take the biggest football stadium in North America or Europe, fill it to capacity -- then double it, and you have the on-site workforce at this Foxconn site. It would be hard to get everyone on message overnight.
- I present these as plain quick snapshots. The very banality of the scenes, in this the most famed workhouse in the world, is generally what I found interesting. Although the Foxconn representatives showing me around said I could take any picture I wanted (other than of brand-name logos on the assembly line), and stepped out of my way whenever I wanted to take a shot, the reality was that we were walking among people doing their ordinary business. I didn't feel like asking them to stop and arrange themselves. Thus the snapshot look and blur. There was no time to line up a real photographer, and even if there had been I think it would have changed the situation.
So here we go. Most of these next scenes were at lunch time when workers were walking to the cafeterias or otherwise were away from the assembly lines. This main street has banks, shops, and so on along along the sides. For instance, that's a branch of the Shenzhen Development Bank with the blue sign over on the right.
Other people outside that same bank. This looked like smokers' corner.
A group of people walking in the main cafeteria area at lunch time. The guy with the plaid shirt has a bandage on his face; I don't know why. I assumed that the woman in the short red dress is pregnant, but I didn't ask. I just saw them walk by.