Apple supplier Foxconn reportedly helped persuade China to loosen Covid rules

A man passes by a compound of the electronics manufacturer Foxconn in Shenzhen on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022.

AH CHI | Future Publishing | Getty Images

The founder of China-based Apple supplier Foxconn helped persuade the country’s leaders to loosen the Covid restrictions that led to protests in China, The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.

In a letter to Chinese leaders sent over a month ago, the Journal wrote, Foxconn founder Terry Gou said China’s zero-Covid policy threatened its position in global supply chains. He also asked for more transparency about how Foxconn’s workers were affected by the rules.

Foxconn’s iPhone plant in Henan province was locked down earlier this fall, restricting the movements of people in an area that was experiencing a Covid outbreak. Some workers tried to flee the plant on foot.

Gou’s letter helped Chinese health officials and government advisors make the case for accelerated easing of Covid restrictions, the Journal reported, citing unnamed sources. The protests that later spread throughout China furthered that case.

Officials who favored a more lenient approach said that the highly contagious omicron variant meant lockdowns would become more common under China’s most restrictive policies while unrest over the rules was mounting.

Liu Pengyu, a spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy in the U.S., said in a statement he was “not aware of the specifics” when reached for comment about the reported letter.

“The Chinese government puts the people and their life first,” he said. “We have been improving the COVID response measures in light of the changing circumstances. By making those adjustments in response to the new circumstances and tasks regarding the COVID response, China has shown that its approach is based on facts and responsive to change. We will continue to adopt a science-based and targeted approach and effectively coordinate epidemic response and socioeconomic development.”

Foxconn did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Read the full story at The Wall Street Journal.

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