'Amazing' Interactive Map Shows China is Only One Part of Apple Supply Chain

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A new interactive map compiled by Asia Society's ChinaFile website shows that while a large amount of Apple product production takes place in China, the tech company actually has suppliers in many countries across the globe.

The map, which was created by ChinaFile visual editor David Barreda and Tea Leaf Nation co-editor David Wertime, used newly released information from Apple and has drawn the attention of journalists and bloggers in the tech and business worlds, receiving coverage from a host of publications, including Gizmodo, Business Insider, Apple Insider and CNN Money

Of the 748 supplier addresses released by Apple, 600 are in Asia, and 331 in China — and it's a handful of those Chinese factories that have garnered headlines, many negative, in recent years. In an interview with Apple Insider, Barreda said that the map allows readers to view the global scope of Apple's suppliers in "a more tangible, real way."

"Hopefully this will be a tool that journalists and researchers and others can use," Barreda said. "That's another of our missions as a nonprofit."

The map was CNN Money's "map of the day," and Business Insider's Owen Thomas called it "amazing." Barreda expressed hope that the information would lead to more studies of the environmental, social and political impacts created by suppliers.    

The supplier information was recently released by Apple as a part of an attempt to improve its image regarding manufacturing labor standards after fielding criticism about numerous incidents of worker suicide and unrest at its Chinese Foxconn plants. According to ChinaFile, Apple joined the Fair Labor Association in 2012 and in the same year released a detailed list of the addresses of its top suppliers for the first time, making the 2013 report its second detailed list. This new membership includes independent auditing of supplier locations. Previously, the company had released more general annual supplier responsibility reports for seven years.

In addition to being the largest supplier location, China recently became home to the largest number of consumers of Apple smart devices.

About the Author

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Liz Flora is a contributor to Asia Blog. She has a master's degree in East Asian Languages and Cultures from Columbia University.