According to the Wall Street Journal, Apple supplier Foxconn’s founder has played a significant part in convincing the Chinese regime’s leadership to speed up plans to loosen its controversial zero-COVID policy.

Terry Gou, the founder of Foxconn, sent a letter to Chinese leaders warning that the regime’s strict COVID-controlled measures could threaten the position of the world’s second economy in global supply chains.

The letter also asked for more transparency from authorities about curbs on Foxconn’s workers.

The Journal on Thursday reported that Gou’s letter was sent about a month ago when Foxconn’s Zhengzhou factory was in chaos due to antivirus restrictions. 

Health officials and government advisers also took advantage of Gou’s letter to recommend top leadership to relax its harsh COVID containment measures.

In October, hundreds of its workers fled the facility in Zhengzhou over discontent and poor living conditions under COVID rules at the site.

In late November, protests erupted again at Foxconn’s Zhengzhou factory as hundreds of workers clashed with security personnel amid ongoing tensions over unpaid wage delays and fears of spreading infection.

Foxconn is Apple’s biggest iPhone producer, with about 200,000 workers, accounting for 70% of iPhone shipments globally.

Reuters reported last month that Apple’s iPhone production could fall by as much as 30% in the next few months due to the lockdown. An expert said Apple lost about $1 billion weekly due to lockdowns in Zhengzhou.

The turmoil at Foxconn’s Zhengzhou plant has accelerated Apple’s plans to move some of its production out of China, a key country in its supply chain. Other major global firms, such as Samsung and Volkswagen, have faced production problems in the county.

China’s National Health Commission announced on Wednesday, December 7, a nationwide relaxation of its COVID restrictions. Widespread protests late last month against the country’s COVID strategy led to this decision.

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