Apple (AAPL.NASDAQ) sent its COO, Tim Cook, to China last year, in an attempt to head off the crisis precipitated by a spate of suicides at key supplier Hon Hai Precision Industry (2317.TPE; also known as Foxconn; 2038.HK, 2354.TPE). Cook and his team interviewed more than 1,000 workers at the factory in Shenzhen in June last year in order to evaluate the company’s response to nearly a dozen deaths, the Wall Street Journal reported. Hon Hai’s actions included setting up a 24-hour care center in an attempt to prevent further tragedies. The negatives publicity arising from the suicides, which took place around the time of the launch of the iPad tablet computer, has placed Apple under increased scrutiny from labor and environmental groups. The company said it had undertaken a comprehensive annual audit of its supplier facilities since 2007, in order to stamp out the employment of underage workers and improve management oversight.