Here’s how a benign New Year tweet by a Huawei’s social media handler uncovered the national underlying discrimination against foreign companies.
In a development that provides indirect evidence of the measures Chinese companies take to pressure and force its citizens to discriminate against international brands, China’s Huawei Technologies has punished 2 employees for sending New Year greetings through their iPhones on Huawei’s official Twitter handle, as per an internal memo.
Incidentally, Huawei’s P-series smartphones compete directly with Apple’s iPhone.
On New Year’s Day two employees wished Huawei’s Tweeter followers a “Happy #2019”, in a tweet that was marked sent “via Twitter for iPhone”.
Although the tweet was quickly removed, screenshots of it spread across social media.
As a result, an user on microblog Weibo commenred, “The traitor has revealed himself,”. The comment was ‘liked’ more than 600 times.
Huawei’s internal memo dated January 3, 2019, seen by Reuters, shows, the Chinese company’s corporate senior vice-president and director of the board Chen Lifang saying, “the incident caused damage to the Huawei brand”.
The incident occured after Sapient, Huawei’s social media handler, experienced “VPN problems” with a desktop computer, so he used his iPhone with a roaming SIM to send the New Year greeting at midnight, reads Huawei’s internal memo.
Like several foreign technology companies, including Facebook and Alphabet Inc’s Google, the services of Twitter is blocked in China. In order to gain access to these blocked services, users use a virtual private network (VPN) connection.
Huawei has demoted two employees responsible for the incident by one rank and has slashed their monthly salaries by 5,000 yuan ($728.27), according to its internal memo.
This is not the first time that the usage of Apple’s product in China has caused such a national embarrassment.
Foreign brands face heightened discrimination in China – a country where the internet is heavily censored.