Online security

Chaos at Apple supplier Quanta shows tensions of lockdown in Shanghai

Quanta Shanghai Manufacturing City (QSMC, 廣達上海製造城) appears to be an ideal site to implement China’s “closed-loop” management system to prevent the spread of COVID-19, which requires staff to live and work on site in a secure bubble.

Spread over land the size of 20 football pitches, the campus houses factories, housing for 40,000 workers and a supermarket.

Yet as COVID-19 breached Quanta’s defenses, the system descended into chaos on Thursday.

Photo: Screenshot from Quanta website

Videos posted online showed more than 100 Quanta workers physically crushing security guards in hazmat suits and jumping over factory gates to avoid being trapped inside the plant at the amid rumors that workers that day tested positive for the virus.

The unrest at Quanta underscores the difficulties Shanghai faces in upgrading its factories, many of which are key links in global supply chains, even as much of the city remains locked down under the policy. China “zero COVID”.

Taiwanese company Quanta Computer Inc (廣達電腦) assembles about three-quarters of Apple Inc’s global MacBook production and also manufactures circuit boards for Tesla Inc.

Quanta has implemented a closed loop to restart work at the plant on April 18 using around 5% of its workers, or 2,000 employees, with plans to triple that figure by April 22.

Chinese state media touted the restart as an example of how Shanghai was maintaining operations while adhering to strict COVID-19 measures.

However, cases were reported daily at an address belonging to the campus from March 26 to Wednesday, according to Shanghai government data.

Calls asking for help in drawing attention to positive cases that were not isolated to Quanta began appearing on Weibo from April 6, five days after Shanghai implemented a lockdown at the city ​​scale.

Employees began posting photos and reports on Douyin (抖音), known as TikTok outside China, showing dozens of workers queuing for buses to be taken to central quarantine facilities .

They also took videos of themselves resting at the Shanghai National Exhibition and Convention Center, one of the city’s largest quarantine centers, as well as a facility specially designed to house Quanta workers. .

Two employees and a person with knowledge of campus operations said there were multiple infections.

“Each dorm reported a few positive cases a day, and eventually everyone became positive,” said one of the two workers, who gave his surname Li (李), adding that there were eight cases. in his room, including himself.

Employees said cases often weren’t isolated for days after a positive test, and a source said there weren’t enough isolation spaces, leading to infections.

It was a trigger for Thursday night’s chaos, employees said, as rumors spread that positive cases had been found at factories.

Workers were spooked by an order telling them not to return to their dormitories, raising fears they could be locked inside the factory.

While videos of the confrontation were deleted, the discussion continued online, with one user simply saying, “What a waste.”

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