From Keith Zhai and Yang Jie's "Letter From Apple Supplier Foxconn’s Founder Prodded China to Ease Zero-Covid Rules" in Friday's Wall Street Journal:
A letter from the founder of the world’s largest iPhone assembler played a major role in persuading China’s Communist Party leadership to accelerate plans to dismantle the country’s zero-tolerance Covid-19 policies, according to people familiar with the matter.
In the letter to Chinese leaders, Foxconn Technology Group founder Terry Gou warned that strict Covid controls would threaten China’s central position in global supply chains and demanded more transparency into restrictions on the company’s workers, the people said. Mr. Gou sent the letter a little more than a month ago as Foxconn’s factory in the city of Zhengzhou was rocked by turmoilover Covid restrictions.
Chinese health officials and government advisers seized on Mr. Gou’s letter to bolster the case that the government needed to speed up its efforts to ease its tough Covid-19 controls, people familiar with the matter said. The eruption weeks later of nationwide protests gave policy advisers further ammunition to press the case for relaxing measures, two of the people said...
After Mr. Gou sent the letter, the government’s tone on Covid began to change. On Nov. 3, an article in the Health Times, a newspaper run by the Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily, described the symptoms of Covid as often short-lived and mild. The description was a departure from previous government narratives that emphasized the severity of the disease and the potential long-term health implications...
China has also tried to stress the importance of the Foxconn factory. In a video published on Nov. 20, the People’s Daily hailed the Apple production site, saying it accounted directly or indirectly for more than a million local jobs and trained over 3 million skilled workers.
My take: As we suspected. Surprised it took more than a month for the story to get out.