The fight, the cause of which is under investigation, erupted Sunday night at a privately managed dormitory near a Foxconn Technology Group factory in the northern city of Taiyuan, the company and Chinese police said. A police statement reported by the official Xinhua News Agency said 5,000 officers were dispatched to the scene.
The Taiwanese-owned company declined to say whether the factory is involved in iPhone production. It said the facility, which employs 79,000 people, will suspend work Monday and reopen Tuesday.
Foxconn makes iPhones and iPads for Apple Inc. and also assembles products for Microsoft Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co. It is one of China’s biggest employers, with some 1.2 million workers in factories in Taiyuan, the southern city of Shenzhen, in Chengdu in the west and in Zhengzhou in central China.
The unrest happens at a critical time for Apple. The fight started days after the launch of the latest iPhone model in the U.S. and eight other countries. The phone quickly sold out in most stores in the U.S. and Apple has a three- to four-week backlog of online orders as it ramps up production to meet demand.
On Monday, Apple said it sold 5 million units of the new iPhone 5 in the first three days, less than analysts had expected. Its stock fell 1.4 percent to $690.50 in midday trading.
The fight in Taiyuan started at 11 p.m. on Sunday, “drawing a large crowd of spectators and triggering chaos,” a police spokesman was quoted by Xinhua as saying.
Order was restored after about four hours and several people were arrested, said the company, a unit of Taiwan’s Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. It said 40 people were taken to hospitals for treatment.