In June 2010, a university student named Liu Jiang arrived in the southern Chinese city of Foshan to begin his summer internship, at a factory that produces LCD screens for laptops and cell phones for the manufacturing giant Foxconn. As a student at the Dongfang Vocational School of Technology in the northern city of Shijiazhuang, Liu had traveled hundreds of miles for a chance to get hands-on experience working for China’s leading electronics maker.
But his internship was brief. Less than a month later, in the early morning of July 18, the eighteen-year-old would climb to the roof of his six-story dormitory and leap to his death.
Liu quickly became a statistic in Foxconn’s ugly worker history, a blip on the Internet radar: his was the seventeenth suicide attempt, and the thirteenth death, at a Foxconn factory that year alone. Apart from his school, few details emerged about his life or the conditions of his particular internship, a gig that landed him among other full-time workers his age and younger.