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China concerned by Foxconn suicides

world Updated: May 26, 2010 10:51 IST

China on Wednesday expressed concern over a string of employee suicides at a massive electronics plant in the south of the country run by Taiwanese group Foxconn.

The cabinet's Taiwan Affairs Office said Beijing was working with the company to implement "effective measures" after the apparent suicides of 10 Foxconn workers, nine of them in the southern city of Shenzhen.

"We are deeply sorry for the Foxconn employees who jumped to their death," Taiwan Affairs Office spokesman Yang Yi told a press conference.

"The State Council Taiwan Affairs Office will closely work with other departments and the local government to deal with the incidents," he said, according to a transcript of the briefing posted online.

So far this year, 11 Foxconn employees have attempted suicide by jumping from buildings in the company's huge Shenzhen facility. Nine of them have died. Another employee committed suicide at a plant in northern China.

The deaths have raised questions about the conditions for millions of factory workers in China, especially at Foxconn, where labour activists say long hours, low pay and high psychological pressure are the norm.

Terry Gou, the chairman of Foxconn's parent company Hon Hai Precision who was visiting the Shenzhen plant on Wednesday, said earlier this week that he was not running "blood and sweat factories".

The state-run China Daily on Wednesday called for Foxconn to do more, and for local government officials to help "shed more light" on the matter.

"Foxconn may not be a sweatshop in the sense that it physically abuses its employees or forces them to work extra hours. But that does not mean it is showing enough humanitarian concern for its employees," the paper said.