A spate of suicides leaves ten dead at the Shenzhen campus of Foxconn, the giant electronics manufacturer that makes many of the world's most popular consumer electronics. A rare strike paralyzes production at Honda Motors, shutting down all of the company's manufacturing lines in the country. In response, both companies offer substantial concessions to workers, causing many to ask if this marks the end of China's reign as the low-cost "workshop to the world"?
This week on Sinica, host Kaiser Kuo welcomes Kathleen McLaughlin, a prolific reporter for the Bureau of National Affairs and Global Post who has written extensively on electronics manufacturing trends in China. We're also joined by Jonathan Watts, Beijing-based correspondent for The Guardian, who is just back from a visit to the massive Foxconn facility in Shenzhen. Also with us is Danwei founder Jeremy Goldkorn. We look at the problems afflicting labor in China: are these simply the result of poor working conditions, or is there more at work here?