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Foxconn Worker Dies in China After Chairman’s Visit

Foxconn Worker Commits Suicide After Chairman’s Visit
Terry Gou, founder and chairman of Hon Hai Group, bows his head during a news conference at the company's Foxconn plant in Shenzhen on May 26, 2010. Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg

A 23-year-old Foxconn Technology Group employee fell to his death in an apparent suicide yesterday and another slashed his wrist early this morning, less than a day after Chairman Terry Gou bowed in apology for at least nine similar deaths at the company’s factories in China.

A man, surnamed He, fell from the seventh floor of a Foxconn building in Shenzhen last night and had stopped breathing when police reached him, according to a Public Security Bureau statement posted on the city government’s website. Initial investigations show the death was a suicide, it said. A 25-year-old man, surnamed Chen, slit his wrist at a company dormitory early this morning and was taken to hospital, according to a separate statement from the city government. He’s not in a critical condition, the government said.

Edmund Ding, spokesman for Foxconn’s Taipei-based flagship Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. confirmed last night’s death earlier today. He didn’t answer subsequent calls to his mobile phone after the report of the second incident.

Gou, the billionaire founder of Foxconn, also known as Hon Hai Group, yesterday led media on a tour of the company’s Shenzhen factories and apologized for being unable to prevent the suicides. Clients Apple Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co. and Dell Inc. said they’re investigating working conditions at the company after the deaths.

Death Toll

He, who was single and came from northwest Gansu Province, began working at the Shenzhen plant on June 18 last year, according to the government website. Chen is from Taojiang in southern Hunan province and began working at the factory on March 15 this year, according to the second statement.

Yesterday’s fall takes the toll to ten suicides and two attempts at the Chinese operations this year, Ding said today, before the latest report of Chen’s injuries.

China, where most of the world’s computers, mobile phones and consumer electronics products are assembled, has an annual suicide rate of 16.9 deaths per 100,000 people, according to 2004 World Health Organization estimates.

Nine of the 11 people who made suicide attempts up to May 25 had worked at the company less than a year, Gou told reporters yesterday. Six of those had been employed for less than half a year, he said.

Continued media reports about the suicides “may have a contagious effect” on young workers and the company is doing its best to prevent the spread of deaths, Gou said yesterday.

Apple is “saddened and upset” by the suicides and has a team evaluating Hon Hai’s countermeasures, Steve Dowling, a spokesman at the Cupertino, California-based maker of iPhones and iPads, said yesterday before the latest death.

HP said it’s investigating Hon Hai’s practices and Dell said it’s examining reports about the world’s largest contract manufacturer.

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