After a quick restart, Apple’s PR makeover seems to be running without a hitch.
In response to a number of high-profile criticisms of Apple’s human rights violations at its Foxconn manufacturing headquarters in China, the tech giant has taken several steps to show that it’s not, like, one of those other, evil multibillion-dollar companies. It joined the Fair Labor Association (and was the first technology company to ever do so) in January, opening up Foxconn to inspection. “Dozens” of issues (excessive overtime, environmental violations) were found, but also some improvements: Foxconn employees now make 25 percent more than they did before the uproar, with rates up to 2,200 yuan, or $350 a month.
So what is Apple’s Tim Cook (right) quietly doing at Foxconn? Mark Natkin, managing director of Marbridge Consulting Ltd., a Beijing-based market research firm, says Cook is showing “his commitment to China” and how seriously his company takes human rights issues.
But Apple won’t comment; it’s actually deflecting questions about Cook’s trip. Spokesperson Carolyn Wu said his visits with Beijing Mayor Guo Jinlong March 26 and with Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang March 27 were simply “great,” and gave Bloomberg News some data about Foxconn’s iPhone production line. It employs 120,000 people, she said. Cryptic!
Maybe Apple just wants people to wonder. Maybe it’s a round of handshakes. Maybe it’s a secret iPhone 5 or iPad 4 mission. Maybe Tim Cook is Batman.