After Tip O'Neill's "All politics is local," Bill Clinton's quip "It's the economy, stupid," is perhaps the most oft-quoted truism of modern American politics. But as times change, we should update our aphorisms accordingly.
It is unfortunate that Mike Daisey lied about Apple's labor practices on "This American Life" by fabricating some harrowing details about the suffering of workers in China who make iPads and iPhones. But this revelation should not divert attention away from the very real, pressing issue of labor abuses in China.
A story that helped catapult the issue of poor work conditions for Chinese workers at Foxconn -- a primary maker of iPads and other devices for Apple Inc. -- back into the spotlight in January has unraveled.
Acclaimed Public Radio International program "This American Life" has retracted an entire episode about working conditions inside Foxconn, the Chinese manufacturer that builds much of Apple's most popular hardware, after learning the reporter "partially fabricated" information about his visit to the factories.
Protesters visited a half-dozen Apple stores around the world on Thursday to deliver petitions calling for reforms in the working conditions at factories run by Apple's suppliers in China and other overseas locations.
Apple is facing demonstrations on Thursday at a half-dozen of its retail stores around the world from customers concerned about how Apple's suppliers treat their factory workers in China and other overseas locations.
Last week, The New York Times gave us an inside look at what it's like to work at Foxconn, the manufacturing company that owns several China-based factories that crank out Apple's iPads, iPhones and iPods by the millions.
Last week, Apple released its sixth annual supplier responsibility report, which detailed violations made by its suppliers. In the same week, news surfaced that about 150 Chinese workers at a giant manufacturing plant that produces Microsoft's Xbox 360 had threatened mass suicide by throwing themselves off their factory rooftop amid a labor dispute.
Microsoft is investigating a report that workers at a Chinese plant that manufactures its Xbox game systems have threatened mass suicide in a pay dispute, according to a statement by the company's Hong Kong office.
Foxconn -- a Chinese contractor that makes brand-name electronics for companies such as Apple -- is raising workers' pay for a second time following a spate of suicides this year at its factory in Shenzhen, according to state media.
Strike one: May 17, 2010. Strike two: June 7, 2010. Workers at Chinese manufacturing plants for the Japanese automaker Honda have twice raised their fists, calling walkouts to demand higher wages. The images from these events -- photographs of uniformed Chinese workers wearing medical masks to hide their faces -- flashed across TV screens around the globe.
Zhang Xinquan has to learn how to do business again. As a top manager in a major leather and shoe business, he built his career turning profits in booming China. But these profits are now getting harder to come by.
Liang Chao was a typical farmer's son who migrated to the city seeking a better life. He seemed to have found it in Shenzhen, a booming city in southern China, where he worked at Foxconn, a company better known for producing components for Apple, Dell, Hewlett-Packard and other companies.