As metaphors go, this one takes some beating. This week, some of the richest people on Earth will gather high up a snowy mountain in the world’s biggest tax haven. Most will have paid big money to attend the three-day meeting in Davos: the most exclusive memberships cost somewhere in the region of £100,000 each. From there, they will relay thoughts on global risks and opportunities to the ski-jacketed press corps. They will talk about gender inequality and technological innovation. The message will go out: however turbulent the global economy, it is being capably stewarded.
At around 8am on 17 March 2010, Tian Yu threw herself from the fourth floor of her factory dormitory in Shenzhen, southern China. For the past month, the teenager had worked on an assembly line churning out parts for Apple iPhones and iPads. At Foxconn's Longhua facility, that is what the 400,000 employees do: produce the smartphones and tablets that are sold by Samsung or Sony or Dell and end up in British and American homes.