|Psst.. spider, this is a pro-Foxconn post|
Foxconn was one of the companies I discovered in 2002, on my first trip to Hong Kong, Shenzhen and Guangzhou. As a student of international development, and a rabid crusader against "resource curse" mining, I was fascinated by the contract manufacturers like Foxconn, Wistron, BenQ, Proview, etc.
Today's news, Foxconn hires Burson-Marsteller to hit out at underage worker claims is already being buzzed about in the blogosphere. Foxconn's tremendous growth has turned into a case study for "gotcha" journalism. Companies like Apple, Sony, Panasonic, and other contractors are worried about collatoral damage from the scrutiny on the "big secret factory" that makes their Iphones, IPads, laptops, etc. (using USA, Japanese, Taiwanese, Korean and European engineering and designs... and imported raw materials.... and little else from outside China).
According to commentary on Slashdot, to hire a big "spin" firm is something akin to a "cover up". Burson-Marstellar was hired to manage PR disasters like Tylenol cynanide poisonings, Three Mile Island over meltdowns, and Bohpal chemical spill disaster... and I guess we are supposed to draw some kind of correlation between embarrassing press, regardless whether the company is victim (Tylenol) or conspirator.
I'm quoting myself again, but "it's like recoiling from poverty is being equated with compassion". I've speculated about some kind of Stephen Pinker evolutionary psychology which causes us to recoil from some things and rush to help others, and how children seem to be a key to pushing our buttons. Sure enough, the headline is about "underage employees".
So a PR crisis hits this multi-billion dollar company, which is in a tinderbox area of Mandarin v Cantonese, Hong Kong v. Communist, Mainland vs. Taiwan metropolis, a city-opolis the comparable to greater Tokyo. And they want to work it out quietly and professionally. They want to get professional advice, respond to critics, make Apple buyers happy, and go on peacefully and productively.