Reporters Without Borders welcomed the 4 September decision of Taiwanese company Foxconn, an Apple subcontractor, to drop a defamation case against two journalists from China Business News.
Wang You and Weng Bao on 15 June exposed poor working conditions in one of its factories.
The press freedom organisation had written to Apple’s CEO asking him to intervene on behalf of the reporters who were facing extremely heavy fines.
"We note that some companies are aware of their ethical responsibilities", it said. "We hope that Apple’s actions in handling this crisis will serve as an example to other computer and Internet giants who invest in China, in particular Yahoo!"
"One cannot say it too often: It is possible to work in this country without giving up ones values. We therefore call on foreign businesses to demonstrate moral courage when they enter the Chinese market," said Reporters Without Borders.
31.08.06 - Apple iPod subcontractor reduces damages claim to token amount
Reporters Without Borders today hailed a decision by an Apple Computer subcontractor in China, the Taiwanese company Foxconn, to reduce the amount of damages it is requesting in its libel suit against two China Business News journalists from 30 million yuan (3 million euros) to the token sum of 1 yuan (10 euro cents).
At the same time, the intermediate people’s court of the southern city of Shenzen has unfrozen the assets of the two journalists, Wang You and Weng Bao, who are being sued by Foxconn over a 15 June story criticising conditions at a plant at Longhua, near Shenzen, that assembles iPods.
Reporters Without Borders said it welcomed the role played by Apple Computer in this case. After the press freedom organisation wrote to the US company’s CEO, Steve Jobs, on 29 August asking him to intercede on behalf of the two journalists, the company said it was “working behind the scenes to help resolve this issue.”
29.08.2006 - Apple Computer urged to intercede for two reporters who exposed bad conditions at supplier’s plants
Reporters Without Borders wrote today to the US company Apple Computer asking it to intercede with its subcontractor in China, Foxconn, and get it to drop its lawsuit against reporter Wang You and editor Weng Bao of the daily China Business News (Diyi Caijing Ribao).
In a 15 June story, they criticised the conditions of workers at a Foxconn plant that assembles iPod music players at Longhua, near the southern city of Shenzen. After getting a court to freeze their assets, Foxconn brought a libel suit against them, demanding 20 million yuan (2 million euros) in damages from Wang and 10 million yuan (1 million euros) from Weng.
Paris, 29 August 2006
Dear Mr. Jobs,
Reporters Without Borders, an organisation that defends press freedom throughout the world, urges you to intercede with your subcontractor in China, the Taiwanese company Foxconn, and get it to drop its lawsuit against reporter Wang You and editor Weng Bao of China Business News (Diyi Caijing Ribao).
These two journalists were responsible for an article on 15 June criticising work conditions at a Foxconn plant. At Foxconn’s request, the Shenzen intermediate people’s court froze their assets - apartments, bank accounts and cars - on 10 July. Foxconn then brought a lawsuit accusing them of “smearing its reputation” and demanding 30 million yuan (3 millions euros) in damages.
We know that Apple is already aware of this case. After the London-based Daily Mail newspaper ran a story about it on 11 June, your company reacted by investigating conditions at Foxconn’s plants and discovered that your supplier had indeed violated several aspects of your code of conduct, including those concerning the length of the working week and days off.
We believe than all Wang and Weng did was report the facts and we condemn Foxconn’s reaction. We therefore ask you to intercede on behalf of these two journalists so that their assets are unfrozen and the lawsuit is dropped.
We trust you will give this matter your careful consideration.