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Yi Yeting is struggling with occupational leukemia and trying to obtain compensation from his employer. Wanting to help others, he begins working for a non-profit that assists workers with occupational illness and injuries.

He discovers there are dozens of workers in his local area who were poisoned while making smartphones. Through research in the community, he discovers a leukemia cluster in the neighborhood surrounding Apple's main supplier Foxconn. Yi's research leads him to several workers and their families trying to survive while burdened with their health care costs. Powerful forces are unleashed as he confronts local factories, putting his own safety at risk.

'Our products come from somewhere, and no matter how far away from our daily lives that 'somewhere' might be, we owe it to ourselves and our fellow humans to understand the impacts of the manufacture of the goods we consume. Complicit reveals the faces and voices of young Chinese workers entangled in a system designed to feed the demand for electronic conveniences without adequate safeguards for their welfare. Through these stories viewers learn that the true cost of electronics involves human lives.' Joy Scrogum, Sustainability Specialist, Sustainable Technology Center, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

'Complicit is a fantastic film!' Maya Wang, Asia Division, Human Rights Watch

'This poignant, gripping, heartbreaking film shines a beacon on how callous corporate greed has been killing and incapacitating the workers on whom we all depend for the electronic devices we all use...It is sure to open the eyes of students, faculty and other citizens, and help them think differently when they pick up their phones. It may well inspire some to emulate the film's brave protagonists who fight against all odds for simple justice.' Marc Blecher, Professor of Politics and East Asian Studies, Oberlin College, Author, China Against the Tides: Restructuring through Revolution, Radicalism and Reform

'Human-centered from first to last, Complicit is a poignant and devastating takedown of electronics production, which worker-activists reveal to be part of the hazardous chemical industry.' Andrew Ross, Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis, New York University, Author, Fast Boat to China: Corporate Flight and the Consequences of Free Trade

'As one gazes into the screen and taps one's thumbs on the keyboard icons, one grasps one's involvement and complicity in a major human rights issue. Even reviewing the film, staring at a screen on a laptop, feels uncomfortably inappropriate and ironic after viewing this compelling documentary.' POV Magazine

'A riveting documentary...We salute the efforts of this migrant worker-turned human rights activist whose crusade to expose the predatory practices of large electronic companies is courageous and ethically rigorous. We also asked ourselves some serious questions about our own loyalty and support of smart phones, personal computers, and other devices created by big named brands.' Spirituality and Practice

'Complicit vividly shows the struggle in China continues today for a safe workplace and just compensation for worker victims at Apple, Foxconn and other electronic producers. With China cracking down on labor NGOs, lawyers and social protest, the campaign to protect the lives and livelihood of workers becomes even more challenging.' Mark Selden, Senior Research Associate, East Asia Program, Cornell University, Author, Chinese Society: Change, Conflict and Resistance

'A shocking film on global outsourcing.' Faze

'This riveting and powerful film is unique among documentaries of Chinese labor. Its unflinching and piercing focus on workers' bodily injuries inflicted by 'high tech' production and consumption will spark many poignant and necessary debates in the classroom and beyond.' Ching Kwan Lee, Professor of Sociology, University of California- Los Angeles, Author, Against the Law: Labor Protests in China's Rustbelt and Sunbelt

'Complicit is critical viewing in the global awakening needed to stop human devastation from unregulated, hazardous chemical use and profits-driven depravity. This film dips below headlines to follow Chinese migrant workers whose lives have been shattered in the exploitative production of consumer electronics, but the challenges they face - terrifying, opaque, infuriating challenges - affect us all, whether we know it now or find out later.' Jen Wong, Director, Materials Lab, School of Architecture, The University of Texas at Austin

'Worker bravery to speak truth to power, to challenge Foxconn and its contractors, Apple and other brands, and the Chinese government, comes alive in this haunting portrayal of the fight against unsafe working conditions in the electronics supply chain. Battling harassment, arrest, and cover-ups, the victims of occupational poisoning become heroes as they demand justice and complicity no more to the valuing of profit over persons.' Eileen Boris, Professor of Feminist Studies, University of California - Santa Barbara, Author, Making the Women Worker: Precarious Labor and the Fight for Global Standards

'The increasingly complex, globalized nature of product supply chains has created 'black holes' in oversight and regulation where serious labor abuses are rife...Xiao's story forces us to confront the human cost of the conveniences we enjoy daily.' Sidney Morning Herald

'A harrowing and powerful documentary that may be set in fast developing China, but it raises an ethical question that we should all consider: From the smartphones we swipe to the Fitbits we wear, what really happens along the supply chain?' The Reel Word

'Complicit is a shattering comment on inequality and the forces that work to maintain the unjust status-quo.' Film Doo

'Reveals the human costs of global outsourcing while highlighting the choices made by a group of inspired activists seeking change.' PressReader

'Forces one to ponder how much a life is truly worth in our profit obsessed world...4 of 5 stars.' The Platform

'Complicit reveals the inhumane ways in which hopeful, hardworking citizens are exposed to toxic chemicals on the job and the shady attempts by multi-billion-dollar corporations to shed all responsibility. The result is equal parts devastating, gut-wrenching, and infuriating - a necessary call for westerners to re-evaluate their relationship with capitalism and its astronomical cost.' The Georgia Straight

'A powerful and moving set of stories that can compel 'digital natives' to care about the people who have produced their beloved electronic devices by showing how we, as consumers, are complicit in the system that allows companies like Apple to deny responsibility for the working conditions of millions of young workers...A must-watch film in high schools, colleges and communities to grapple with the dark side of technology.' Anibel Ferus-Comelo, Director of Student Programming, Center for Labor Research and Education, Lecturer of Public Policy, University of California - Berkeley

'The digital, for all its glow and glory, is contingent on the physical. The film gives us access to personal stories of human suffering that are the direct result of our unyielding thirst to consume digital electronics, ignorant of the vulnerabilities and damage they expose. By attracting the young and the poor to the manufacturing urban centers, the allure of the city mirrors the allure of the screen: offering beauty while concealing ugliness. White and Zhang's film should help shape future policy. Will the allure of the screen distract us once more?' Jonathan Beever, Assistant Professor of Ethics and Digital Culture, University of Central Florida


Main credits

White, Heather (film director)
White, Heather (film producer)
Zhang, Lynn (film director)
Seward, Christopher (screenwriter)

Other credits

Edited by Lynn Zhang, Christopher Seward; cinematography, Shaoguang Sun, Lynn Zhang; music by Freddie Bryant.

Docuseek2 subjects

Distributor subjects

Asian Studies
Business Practices
Environmental Justice
Global Issues
Human Rights
International Studies
International Trade
Labor and Work Issues
Social Justice
Social Work
Toxic Chemicals
Women's Studies


benzene, Foxconn, Chinese factory worker, smartphone industry, YiYeTing, occupational leukemia, compensation from employer, non-profit helping workers with occupational illness and injuries, workers poisoned making smartphones, leukemia cluster near Foxconn, Apple's main supplier, burden of health care costs, teenage migrant workers, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Fan Qinmei, Labor Action China, Hong Kong, electronics industry, chemical poisoning, ASM Pacific, n-hexane, Ming Kunpeng, ASM Pacific, suicide, Huangjiang Hospital, chemotherapy, leukemia caused by benzene, Zhao Wei Electronics, malignant tumor, bribes, sick workers, Guangzhou Health Department, Terry Guo, Apple denies connection to factory where workers poisoned by n-hexane, neurological damage, iPhone 5, Samsung, dust-free workshop, Xingyang, Innolux, Liu Huihui, toxic chemicals, Guangzhou Occupational Disease Prevention and Treatment Hospital, Ban Benzene Conference, Fan Qinmei, 1971 International Benzine Convention, Samsung apologizes, Nanfeiyan Labor NGO; "Complicit"; Bullfrog Films

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