Taiwan IT giant Foxconn said Friday it is set to transform its factories in southern China into an engineering base while moving about 200,000 jobs inland.
"Our long-term plan is to continue to carry out some manufacturing in Shenzhen but to also transform our operations in Shenzhen into an engineering base and (research and development) centre," said Louis Woo, a Foxconn spokesperson.
The move will take place over several years and see Foxconn's workforce in Shenzhen decline to around 300,000 and change in composition as it recruits more engineers, designers, and researchers, Woo said.
Foxconn's plan to turn its manufacturing hub in Shenzhen, across the border from Hong Kong, into an "engineering campus" reflects a broader trend to move low-end factories from coastal zones to cheap inland provinces.
"This is in keeping with the government's own programme to transform Shenzhen into an R and D and engineering centre and a location for higher value-added manufacturing," Woo said.
Foxconn is the world's largest maker of computer components and produces goods for Apple, Sony and Nokia. It currently employs around one million workers in China, about half of them based in Shenzhen.
The company has been expanding its workforce in central China as it seeks to scale back the size of its biggest facility in Shenzhen, which has been plagued by a series of employee suicides in recent years.
Foxconn has previously said it plans to hire up to 400,000 new workers this year, mostly in the central provinces, partly to keep up production while cutting maximum overtime hours.
At least 13 employees at Foxconn died in apparent suicides last year, according to Chinese state media.
Labour rights activists have blamed the deaths on tough working conditions, highlighting the difficulties millions of factory workers face across China.
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