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iPhone XS on track after Typhoon Mangkhut barrels through China’s electronics capital

Biggest storm of the year rocks Greater Bay Area in southern China

This article originally appeared on ABACUS

The world’s strongest storm this year shut down China’s manufacturing powerhouse.

Typhoon Mangkhut, bigger than Hurricane Florence which battered North Carolina in the US, made landfall in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong on Sunday.
Flights were cancelled. Main roads and bridges were closed. And factories across Guangzhou, Zhuhai, Shenzhen, Zhongshan and other cities ground to a halt, according to Chinese media.
The area -- known traditionally as Pearl River Delta -- is China’s leading manufacturing hub. Consisting of 9 cities, it make up just around 4% of China’s population but contributed more than 9% of the country’s GDP in 2016. Under an ambitious plan by President Xi Jinping, the region was recently rebranded as the Greater Bay Area -- with hopes of transforming into China’s very own Silicon Valley.

Shenzhen, a metropolis bordering Hong Kong, is already home to some of the country’s biggest tech titans, like Tencent, Huawei, ZTE, OnePlus and DJI.

Dongguan, once infamous for rampant prostitution, has grown into a thriving production center for technology. Smartphone giants Oppo and Vivo are headquartered in the city, which made one-fifth of the world’s mobile phones shipped last year.
Workers at Oppo’s main factory in Dongguan. (Picture: AFP)

Typhoon Mangkhut hit southern China just ahead of a week when Apple is set to deliver some of the world’s most anticipated consumer electronics products this year: The iPhone XS and XS Max are both scheduled to arrive on Friday. Many of these handsets are assembled by Foxconn -- a Taiwan-based contractor with a massive factory complex in Shenzhen.

Foxconn told us that the weekend’s typhoon didn’t result in any material impact on their facilities in Shenzhen.

Although their Shenzhen campus remains important, in recent years Foxconn has shifted a large part of its operations inland. At their factories in the central city of Zhengzhou, Chinese media says workers are busy churning out the latest models from day to night.

The main focus is on the cheaper iPhone XR -- which is shipping over a month later than the XS and XS Max. The issue is said to involve color fading on the back cover. To make up for the delay, tens of thousands of workers are now clocking in 19 hours a day to meet orders.

Meanwhile in Shenzhen on Monday, life was slowly returning to normal as the deadly storm moved away. Video circulating on social media showed people climbing through debris and fallen trees on their paths -- whatever it takes to to go back to work.

For more insights into China tech, sign up for our tech newsletters, subscribe to our Inside China Tech podcast, and download the comprehensive 2019 China Internet Report. Also roam China Tech City, an award-winning interactive digital map at our sister site Abacus.