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China: Missing iPhone pressured mainland worker to suicide

Sun Dangyang, 25, was born in a small village. He earned his college degree in Harbin University and was then employed by Foxconn, a Taiwanese company and one of Apple’s largest contractors. His parents were proud of their son however they never expected that the job and an iPhone would finally lead to Sun’s death.

On the morning of 16, July, Sun’s body was found at the foot of his apartment block. He left his last words to his girlfriend and some of his friends. Though the exact cause of his death is as yet unknown, judging from his messages, he committed suicide because he was suspected by Foxconn of stealing an iPhone G4 prototype.

The missing iPhone was deadly to Mr Sun. The security chief of Foxconn, in fear of Steve Jobs’ wrath, was said to have harshly interrogated Sun and searched through his home. The reason that Sun was so heavily pressured was that losing an iPhone prototype could mean losing the contracts from Apple which are worth millions of dollars and thousands of jobs.

Sun’s last message to his girlfriend reads:

“My dear, I’m sorry, go back home tomorrow, something has happened to me, please don’t tell my family, don’t contact me, this is the first time that I have ever begged you, please agree to that! I am so sorry!”

After that, he apparently committed suicide.

It could have been a normal if regrettable piece of news since suicide because of intense commercial pressure is not so surprising in China, where the industries are highly competitive. But a sensational post widely circulated on the internet changed everything. The post allegedly recorded an online chat of Sun with one of his friends studying in France. In the online chat which happened right at the night of his death, Sun implied that he was beaten up and humiliated by Foxconn staff.

Sun, as the person responsible for mailing the iPhone prototype back to Apple in US, was the major suspect according to his boss. Sun’s 3-day delay of reporting the loss to his manager further added to suspicion of him. But in the chat Sun explained to his friend:

好友100:12:16
勇哥,你还是先冷静下来把整个事情再回想一下
好友100:12:33
看看什么地方出了问题
孙丹勇00:13:03
我仔细想了一下,机台少只有两个可能性
一是我装箱之前确实就被人无心拿走了,
另外一个可能就是确实有人有意在当晚或第二天拿走了
好友100:13:05
我知道你不是那种人,但是害人之心不可有,防人之心不可无啊
好友100:13:29
这件事情后果严重不 ?
好友2 00:13:42
那没有回旋或者查找的可能性吗?
好友2 00:14:12
富士康应该有监管措施吧
孙丹勇00:14:23
虽然纸箱有贴保密封条,但是我在那也放有保密封条,而且大的纸箱有人动过,
好友100:15:43
对你有什么影响?
孙丹勇00:17:17
我之所以脱了3天才告诉主管,是因为我一直在找,我当时只是以为机台应该还在产线,想自己把问题处理掉,后来实在找不到了,也知道如果机台泄密会对公司有很严重的后果,就给JEFF 打电话告诉他了

(Friend)
Calm down and think back what has happened.
(Sun)
There can only be two reasons for the missing iPhone.
First, before I packed it up it had been stolen.
Second, someone stole it that night after it was packed.
(Friend)
I know you are not that kind of person. But you should keep alert of others too. Is it serious?
(Sun)
Though the paper box was sealed, it could be sealed afterwards with the strip seal I put there, and I found the box had been touched by some one.
(Friend)
What will happen to you?
(Sun)
I told my boss 3 days later because I had been looking for it. I thought more prototypes were on the streamline so I wished to handle the trouble myself. But I had no way to find it back and I know that leaking an iPhone is very serious a problem. So I called Jeff (his boss)

孙丹勇00:26:55
我今天被环安课做的那么记录,从良心上说,都是真的,没有半句假话,虽然看起来有些地方值得怀疑,我能理解你们,换了我我也会这么想的
孙丹勇00:27:35
但我不能接受环安课对我的人格污辱,

(Sun)
Sincerely, what I said to the security department today is all true though it might look suspicious in some places. I can understand you. If it were you I would thought the same way.
But I can’t afford the humiliation of my personality.

Sun then said:

孙丹勇00:30:02
就是去公安局,法律也明文规定不可以用武力,何况这只是公司而已
孙丹勇00:32:03
我只是有嫌疑而已,亲爱的环安课@#课长,你们有什么理由和资格扣留我在你那,对我动手

“Even at a police station, the law says force must never be used, much less in a corporate office. I was just a suspect, my dear head of security, so what reason and right do you have to confine me and use force?”

好友100:36:58
你千万不要气馁,更不要做什么过激的反应
孙丹勇00:37:58
少机台是我的责任,我能接受,也很愧疚,但他妈的不是我拿的,

(Friend)
Don’t be discouraged and don’t do something overacted.
(Sun)
It is my fault. I am sorry. But it was f**king not me that took the iPhone.

好友100:41:47
这样才更应该好好活,以后给那帮狗东西看
孙丹勇00:43:14
只是这次,估计严重的后果还在后面吧,随便再打我一顿,然后又随便找个理由把我丢公安局去?真不知道
好友100:44:47
勇哥,从现在开始,你一定要张个心眼,然后能留证据就留证据。而且适当的时候一定要服软
孙丹勇00:45:36
那个关人的房间居然没有摄像头,太他妈强了,去过C02 1.5F 这么多次,这次才发现那里还有这么个@#的世外桃园,不知有多少人被在那负过

(friend)
So you should live on to show to those bastards that you are innocent.
(Sun)
But this time, I guess something much worse would soon happen. I might be beaten up again without any reason and thrown to the police station? I don’t know.
(Friend)
Sun, be careful now, keep evidence and don’t resist when there is no way out.
(Sun)
The place that confined me doesn’t have CCTV! F**king a**hole. So many times had I been there but I had never found the place. I can't tell how many people had been bullied over there.

孙丹勇00:57:41
在部门快一年了,真的,很感激部门的各们同仁,和你们相处真的很愉快,特别是我亲爱的JEFF主管,真的很感激你,我之前在工作中出了这么的问题,一直都是你在前面替我挡客户,把事情都处理了,

(Sun)
Thanks my colleagues in this one year. It was a great time with you. Particularly my dear chief Jeff. Appreciate your help. I had so many problems and you always help me deal with the customers.

孙丹勇01:11:51
各位部门同仁,最后说一遍实话:少的那台N90机台不是我拿的

(Sun)
My last word, I didn’t take the Iphone N90

孙丹勇01:19:18
我真的是被你欺负得没话说了,亲爱的@#课长,希望你会很快得到应有的报应,虽然你们有能力打我,虽然能很快再造出一台机子来,但那是FOXCONN 强,不是你强
孙丹勇01:21:28
对了,还有一件事情,欠学校的助学贷款现在只是在还利息,期望不会对学弟学妹的贷款有影响,这件事情的很不好意思了
孙丹勇01:26:27
走了,高歌,好好休息噢,想想明天不用被人欺蓐,不用当替罪养,心里好受多了,

I was so pissed off, dear security chief. Hope you will get your retribution. Though you can beat me and make a new machine soon, it is the power of Foxconn, but not you.
Yes, one thing more. I am still paying back the interest of my college loan. Hope it won’t affect my brother and sister. Sorry for that. See you, my friend. I feel much better thinking that I don’t have to be bullied anymore and I don't need to be a scapegoat.

Two hours later, Sun apparently jumped from the top of the building.

The record was verified and thought to be authentic. Journalists soon found the security chief, Gu Qinming mentioned by Sun. Gu Qinming replied:

顾钦明说,7月15日13时30分许,在获悉苹果公司一部手机样机丢失后,他去了孙丹勇说的包装现场,孙丹勇模拟了当时交接手机的现场,并说交接时他中间离开了一会儿。

On 15, July, I went to the site where Sun allegedly packed up the iPhones. Sun described the scene where he received the phones from the production department, and said he left for a while during the process.

第一次调查结束后,从当时与孙丹勇交接产品的女同事处了解到,产品交接时孙丹勇一直在场,这与此前孙丹勇说他曾中途离开不一致,所以要跟他对一下细节。

But after the first investigation, I heard from his female colleague that he was there during the entire process, different from what he said, so I need to check it out with him.

He also denied that he searched Sun’s home by force.

顾钦明说,搜家是孙丹勇提出的。我们让孙丹勇回忆细节时,他突然提出,为表清白,到他家看看。“我当时觉得不很妥当,但孙丹勇挺坚持的,我就说要是去的话,就写个同意书签个字。”

It was Sun himself who asked us to search his house so that he can be proven innocent. ‘I thought it was not so appropriate but he insisted on that. So I asked him to sign an agreement.

Not many people trust the apology of Foxconn.
gaofei8292 said,

我也是FOXCONN的,对楼主说的深有同感,只要在FSK干过的都一定是深有体会并对楼主说的事情感同身受。
是的,FSK就是这样一个企业。

I am working in Foxconn too. I feel exactly the same with what the post states. Everyone who has worked there would feel the same. Indeed, that’s the way Foxconn is.

牵着蜗牛过马路 echoed the complaint:

兄弟走好,我也是在FSK的,不能不顶了,这里干活没有什么尊严,下面的狗一样的所谓陆干,和那些鸟台干一个鼻孔出气,溜须拍马,克扣我们这些基层的,

Good luck on your journey to another world. I am working in Foxconn too. I have to say that we have no dignity at all. The mainlander cadres are like the dogs of those senior chiefs from Taiwan. They crushed the grassroots together.

82926303 said Foxconn is too powerful a company to beat:

没有哪个电视台愿意曝光一些富士康的东西,即使你给他钱也不愿 意,因为不想惹祸上身,多一事不如少一事,富士康太厉害了,因为根源有政府的支持,因为有钱,因为有专业的有名的法律团队……

No TV station would expose the dark side of Foxconn, even if you give them money. Foxconn is so powerful that they got the government support and have enough money and well-known lawyer team.

On the internal forum of Foxconn, there are also posts regretting Sun’s death and complaining about Foxconn’s suppressing atmosphere. Taiwan businessmen are thought to be just like foreign suppressors. sgqlove520 said

哎…台湾,日本的外商从来对我国劳动人民都不当人看。
但是这又能如何呢?不管出了什麽事.主流媒體也不敢報導.
地方政府我想沒什麽好說的了.為虎作倀.草菅人命.
已經屢見不鮮了.到底我國勞動人民的生命及尊嚴
何時才有人出來捍衛呢…

Sigh! The businessmen from Japan and Taiwan don’t treat Chinese workers as human. But so what? The mainstream media doesn’t report on the issue at all. Neither did the government do anything. Who on earth would stand up to protect the life and dignity of Chinese labor?

(Bob Guy also contributes to the post.)

The number one cause for suicide is untreated depression. Depression is treatable and suicide is preventable. You can get help from confidential support lines for the suicidal and those in emotional crisis. Please visit www.befrienders.org to find a suicide prevention helpline in your country.

1 comment

  • the tank man

    sorry to see that Sun didn’t make it to the end,even though the chance being cleared up might be rather slim, there is still hope though.
    i have been feeling depressed and heart-rended reading
    his last chat log an thousands of miserable hearbreaking
    stories ordinary chinese men and women are going through
    now. i couldn’t help thinking sometimes what if it was me who was trapped in that shitty mess. if the death is a weak
    silent retreat or counterattack or whatever people may call it, i would rather make it a bit more fussy and sensational

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