It is no secret that hiring minors and forcing migrants from rural areas to work obscenely long hours is standard procedure in many electronics companies based in mainland China, but the most recent human rights abuse is already starting to cause outrage for two reasons.
First, it involves Asustek, one of the biggest names in the tech industry. Secondly, it involves the death of a 14-year-old boy who was employed by an Asus partner in China. According to human rights organisation China Labor Watch, 14-year-old Liu Fuzong was employed by Yinchuan Electronic Company in Dongguan City. The company allegedly falsified its records and reported him as one Su Longda, an 18-year-old.
He reportedly worked at a factory which produces Asus motherboards. The company apparently produced some gear for Canon and Sony in the past. The standard shift was 12 hours, with a short break for lunch.
On May 21 Fuzong's co-workers found him motionless in his bed and he was pronounced dead in a local hospital. Employees told the press that management simply did not care about the age of the employees. Regardless of age, the company demanded all employees to meet production targets. China Labor Watch says it witnessed about 80 other young workers "in the area" and some of them were under the age of 16.
Local authorities have launched a probe to get to the bottom of the scandal, but more often than not such investigations prove futile. What's more, the management of the Asus manufacturer was willing to pay just a fraction of the compensation demanded by the boy's family. In the that was just over $16,000.
Asus did not reply to our request for comment at the time of publication.