From 13.9 per 100,000 people in 1999 to 22.23 people out of every 100,000 in 2011, then 9.8 people out of every 100,000 in 2014, China’s suicide rate dropped significantly. Paul Yip, a co-author of the study and professor at the University of Hong Kong, said: “no country has ever achieved such a rapid decline in suicides”.

However, over the past decades, the economic environment in China has changed too rapidly for our mental picture of it to remain true to life.

The picture I’ll bet most people have the working condition is still a picture a human being might have taken. In it, workers huddled together to finish donkey work, the supervisor is hollering at the workers, and the workplace environment is far below the international standard. That picture is dated; the world it depicted is dead.

When people blame Foxconn’s dehumanizing working condition, one of the excuses they cited is that, compared to national suicide rate, the suicide rate among the Foxconn is very low. I am concerned about the individual issues, but you talk about the overall data? The life of others is not a joke.

In fact, I would not neglect the infrastructure in Foxconn, the restaurant, and the dorm are no bad than Chinese campuses. I studied in a Chinese university for two years, that university is located close to Xizhimen, central Beijing. I do believe the dorm of my previous campus is worse than Foxconn, our dorms are built at the 80s, and 6-8 students live in a 4 m *6 m room. What I want to emphasize is that, when people talk about ethics, talk about social issues, they will unconsciously focus on the big picture, the dated picture, the picture without each single “human”.

What is the picture of a single worker in Foxconn? We always say each of us is unique in this universe, I will not deny this universal norm. But there must have some similar reasons drive some similar people to get together. The picture of Foxconn workers can be depicted by only two words: uneducated and poor. What they know is “work harder, paid higher “.  Mr. Barboza, The Times’s Shanghai bureau chief said, “…if you ever ask a (Foxconn) factory worker in China how much they are paid, make sure to ask their basic salary. That is the salary based on 160 hours of work a month. And then ask them about overtime, which can range from 1.5 times their hourly wage during weekdays and to 2 times their hourly wage on weekends. If they give you their total monthly income, you might be confused as to how they could earn so much, not knowing they may have worked 36 hours of overtime — or more.”. Most of the outsiders, who condemn Foxconn and Apple, would also ask questions. Why Foxconn’s workers willing to work under that condition? Why they don’t just quit their job? Why they don’t try strike like western workers?

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs

Based on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, our most basic need is for physical survival, and this will be the first thing that motivates our behavior. The physiological needs include food, water, warmth, and rest etc., those things keep people alive. Then safety needs (security, and health). The first two stage is the most basic needs for a human being, and unless people are guaranteed the basic needs, they won’t pursue the higher level needs.

maslow-pyramidby Saul McLeod

For most of workers in China, Foxconn worker is just the epitome of them, the reason they are put in the headline is that they are producing Apple products by chance. Relatively speaking, Foxconn provides their worker’s better-working condition than the average Chinese factory. First of all, the salary issue, Foxconn’s salary is pretty good compared to another Chinese factory, or even another developing countries’ factories. You have nothing, as long as there is a worker ID card, you can immediately have a dorm, and you can immediately go to a restaurant to get some food. This is the efficiency of Foxconn. Foxconn’s implementation of the payment is very strict, will not in arrears, promised that you would not make some troubles.

They rely on Foxconn for living, how can you ask them to quit their job?


If a group of people living under high pressure not only from work but also from family, how can you make sure they won’t be negative? Most of those workers are under 25, they quit school education for supporting their poor family by working overtime. Both physical and mental line of self-defense is relatively lower than those who obtain higher education. China has nine-year compulsory education policy, which asked all kids to attend primary and secondary school without paying any tuition. However, the quality of school can’t be ensured, and after nine years, some poor families can’t support their kids for higher education.



  2. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs