A "world-class" (labor) camp/us : Foxconn and China's new generation of labor migrants

Ngai PUN, Anita KOO

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


The fact that in 2010 eighteen young workers attempted suicide at Foxconn production facilities in China has attracted worldwide attention. Drawing on research conducted in Foxconn factories in three regions of China—the Pearl River Delta, the Yangtze River Delta, and West China—the authors trace the development of the Foxconn Technology Group as a case that demonstrates the aggressive nature of capital expansion in China and its impact on the lives of Chinese workers. While the Foxconn Group produces Apple products for the world's consumers, it simultaneously produces a new Chinese working class, the majority of whom are young migrant laborers. The authors claim that in China the state played a significant role in accelerating global capital accumulation. The authors hope to make sense of the way that a state-capital alliance is shaping a new form of labor recruitment and labor use. This article analyzes the emerging labor regime, specifically, the use of student labor in the process of Foxconn's expansion in China. First, the article discusses the ways in which the state contributes to the rise of monopoly capital by supplying workers who are both cheaper and younger. Second, the article examines how the new labor regime, established by Foxconn, generates more pressure on workers, leading to increased levels of anxiety and desperation among young factory workers. The article's principal research question is how a labor crisis was structurally produced in a mega global factory regime, when a new youth working class was emergent in China.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)411-435
Number of pages25
JournalPositions: asia critique
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2015
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Financial support from: the Research Grants Council of Hong Kong: “A New Age of World Factory: Capital Expansion, the Role of State and Foxconn Production in China” (PolyU 5470/12H) and “Vocational Education and Social Mobility of Migrant Youth in China” (PolyU 5440/12H)


  • youth
  • labor migration
  • vocational training schools
  • student interns
  • monopoly capital
  • Foxconn
  • China


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