Violent Protests Erupt at Foxconn iPhone Factory in China

Foxconn workers clash with security in haz-mat suits over wages, COVID restrictions and poor food rations, videos reportedly show.

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Foxconn sign atop a building

Foxconn headquarters in Taipei, Taiwan.

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Employees at Apple's biggest iPhone plant in China clashed with police and security personnel in a protest that began Tuesday night and lasted into Wednesday. Mounting tensions over restrictions intended to suppress a COVID-19 outbreak led to unrest at the campus in Zhengzou. 

More than 100 workers at the Foxconn plant were seen leaving their dormitories and pushing past outnumbered guards in videos sent by eyewitnesses to Bloomberg. One clip showed several people wearing what appeared to be white haz-mat suits striking a man on the ground with sticks, while another showed people charging through barricades as onlookers chant "fight, fight!"

The protest erupted overnight over unpaid wages and fear of an infectious outbreak at the plant, a witness said. By Wednesday morning, thousands of employees rallied outside the dorms to face off against the plant's security teams, according to the Associated Press. Several workers were injured in the melee before police restored order. The videos, which were broadcast live on the Kuaishou short video platform, couldn't immediately be verified by CNET.

Foxconn, which employs about 200,000 people, is Apple's biggest iPhone maker, producing about 70% of iPhone shipments globally.

The violence underscores the growing tension at the Zhengzhou plant since the latest lockdown began in October. Many workers have fled the plant in recent weeks over frustrations about how the outbreak was handled and insufficient food rations.

In a statement on its website, Foxconn denied that employees who tested positive for COVID-19 have been living in its onsite dormitories. The company also claimed that "allowance has always been fulfilled" in terms of paying employee contracts. Apple and Foxconn representatives didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.