Shanghai coronavirus lockdown sparks riot at MacBook factory

Hundreds of workers at the Shanghai factory of Taiwan-based Quanta Computer Inc. rioted over the weekend, pushing barricades and clashing with police in a rash of frustration after six weeks of lockdowns punitive against coronaviruses.

The troubles would have has begun Thursday evening at the Shanghai Dafeng Electronics factory, a Quanta subsidiary and major supplier of Apple MacBook computers.

Employees were evidently frustrated with the “closed-loop management system” that required them to live on factory premises, so hundreds broke through security barricades and rushed out into the outside world.

Workers interviewed by Shanghai media said they feared even tougher lockdown restrictions could be imposed on the factory as some positive Chinese coronavirus tests had been reported among staff.

Some employees too mentioned they were exhausted from working extremely long shifts in the sealed factory. Thursday night clash would have began when tired employees were prevented from returning to their dorms after working their shifts, leading nervous workers to assume they were about to be locked down in a full quarantine.

The factory riot was a stunning display of disobedience, given the harsh penalties threatened for those who violate China’s lockdown orders. Numerous videos of smaller-scale acts of defiance and desperation have leaked through China’s social media censorship barrier in recent weeks, including scuffles with officials, chants of protest, residents complaining of food and medicine shortages and police abusing citizens.

Dissatisfaction with the “closed-loop” approach to factory management is growing among thousands of Shanghai residents forced to work under such conditions, including employees of huge operations like Tesla’s “Gigafactory.”

An aerial view of the Tesla Shanghai Gigafactory on March 29, 2021 in Shanghai, China. (Xiaolu Chu/Getty Images)

Reuters reported on Tuesday that production at the Tesla Gigafactory had almost completely halted due to supply issues after three weeks of captive employees working brutal 12-hour, six-day shifts under closed-loop quarantine. Quanta is one of Tesla’s suppliers.

Tensions would have rose in Shanghai on Monday as even more punitive restrictions were imposed.

Chinese communist censors have struggled to remove all explosive social media posts from angry and frightened Shanghai residents, including videos of ugly quarantine centers, entire residential complexes cordoned off because a few residents tested positive , and “Big Whites” – the local nickname for hazmat – the adapted lockdown applies – jostling enraged residents to spray their homes with disinfectant.

On Sunday, a group of Chinese scholars wrote an open letter accusing the government of violating China’s constitution with its draconian lockdown policies, paving the way for “some kind of legal disaster”. The letter was aggressively tracked down and deleted by Communist censors, but it was reposted so often by Shanghai residents that it could not be completely deleted.


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