Samsung Electronics’ workforce in China is collapsing

Samsung Electronics’ memory semiconductor factory in Xian, China

Samsung Electronics’ workforce in China reached 60,000 eight years ago but has been reduced to the 10,000 mark, according to the company’s report released on July 6.

The company’s workforce in Korea has increased by 20 percent over the past five years due to the expansion of Korea’s semiconductor fabs.

Analysts say Korean companies are gradually relocating to Vietnam and India due to various regulations, discrimination by Chinese authorities and increases in unit prices.

According to Samsung Electronics’ 2022 Sustainability Report, 17,820 employees were on the payroll of the company’s subsidiaries in China at the end of last year. That’s down 70.46 percent from a peak of 63,316 in 2013. The company’s workforce in China fell below 60,000 in 2014, below 50,000 in 2015, and below 40,000 in 2016 and 2017 when a THAAD issue erupted.

The number continued to decline after trade disputes erupted between the United States and China, staying below 30,000 in 2018 and 2019 and below 20,000 in 2020 and 2021.

During this time, Samsung Electronics has downsized its factories in China. The communications factory in Shenzhen was shut down in May 2018 and the smartphone factory in Tianjin in December of the same year. In 2019, the company closed its Huizhou factory, which was its last smartphone manufacturing base in China. In July 2020, the company closed the PC manufacturing plants in Suizhou. These factories and manufacturing facilities were relocated to Vietnam and India. Currently, there are only three Samsung Electronics manufacturing bases in China — a home appliance factory and a semiconductor back-end processing factory in Suizhou, and a memory semiconductor factory in Xian.

Samsung has been hit by high tariffs following the US-China trade dispute, policies geared towards domestic demand and rising labor costs. A strict COVID-19 lockdown policy hampered Samsung’s stable corporate operations in China. The Korean tech giant is expected to phase out its investments in semiconductor and home appliance manufacturing facilities that remain in China


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