China tells Apple to 'care for workers'

Mar 29, 2012
Vice Premier Li Keqiang, the man tipped to be China's next leader, has told Apple that foreign firms should protect workers, state media said, as the US giant fends off criticism over factory conditions in China.

The man tipped to be China's next leader has told Apple that foreign firms should protect workers, state media said Thursday, as the US giant fends off criticism over factory conditions in China.

International labour watchdog groups have said workers in Chinese plants run by major Apple supplier of Taiwan are poorly treated, and have blamed a string of apparent suicides on the conditions.

Vice Premier Li Keqiang, who is likely to be China's next premier, met while the new Apple chief executive was visiting Beijing on Tuesday, the official reported.

Li told Cook multinational companies should "pay more attention to caring for workers", the report said.

Cook on Wednesday visited a Foxconn plant employing 120,000 people in China's central city of Zhengzhou, where he viewed the production line, Apple said.

California-based Apple is wildly popular in China, where its products such as the and are coveted by wealthy consumers.

Greater China -- which includes Hong Kong and Taiwan -- has become Apple's fastest growing region, and revenue from there is second only to the United States.

"Tim had great meetings with Vice Premier Li and other top officials in Beijing," Apple said in a statement provided to AFP on Thursday.

"China is very important to us and we look forward to even greater investment and growth here," it said.

The company declined to comment on the issues discussed at the meetings with officials, which included Beijing's mayor.

Apple is still grappling with a series of problems from negative publicity over its supply chain to a trademark contest.

Chinese computer firm Proview Technology () claims it owns the "iPad" trademark, and has sought to block sales of the iconic in China through lawsuits.

Apple says it legally bought the rights to the trademark.

Xinhua quoted Li as saying that China would "strengthen protection", although the report did not say whether he commented directly on the trademark dispute.

The Taiwan affiliate of Proview registered "iPad" as a trademark in several countries including China as early as 2000 -- years before Apple began selling its product.

The US titan subsequently bought the rights for the global trademark, but Proview claims the Taiwanese affiliate had no right to sell the Chinese rights.

A Chinese court is now considering an appeal by Apple after rejecting its earlier lawsuit against Proview for trademark infringement last year due to lack of evidence.

A watchdog group, Fair Labor Association, recently toured Foxconn facilities and factories of other Apple suppliers in China with Apple's consent but has yet to release its findings.

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User comments : 5

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Argiod
2.3 / 5 (3) Mar 29, 2012
All China has to do to avoid negative international critisizm is to stop abusing its workers. No amount of laws, threats or political rhetoric will do the job. If you don't want people bad-mouthing you, don't do anything bad that people can talk about.
Callippo
3 / 5 (2) Mar 29, 2012
ryggesogn2
2.3 / 5 (3) Mar 29, 2012
Where are the calls by the 'progressives' to boycott Apple?
Callippo
3 / 5 (2) Mar 29, 2012
Where are the calls by the 'progressives' to boycott Apple?
The Apple clones are manufactured in China anyway..;-)
RitchieGuy
1 / 5 (1) Mar 30, 2012
I am shocked, SHOCKED that Chinese workers are being abused and treated unfairly in their own country as though they were mere "coolies". Where is the outrage, indeed.
It's well known that Chinese workers in the Chinese factories have to answer to White-American and Black-American managers, supervisors, and middle management who force them to work without food, water or potty time. Oh, those nasty Amelicans. Who do they think they are?
Why, Chinese owners of factories would NEVER do such things to their Chinese workers. They give them good salaries and frequent raises and let them lounge by the filtered water cooler for as long as they want. They can even fall asleep when they're supposed to be working, and that's okay with Chinese owners and management.
It's only those dastardly white folks who crack the whip at Apple factories and the workers have no recourse but to complain to the Communists in the Chinese government about the cruel, unjust and inhuman conditions. Oh the humanity.