Chinese firms back Huawei phones amid stand-off with US

Several companies are offering employees subsidies for Huawei phone purchases, while others have even warned staff against buying Apple products.
Several companies are offering employees subsidies for Huawei phone purchases, while others have even warned staff against buying Apple products.PHOTO: AFP

SHANGHAI • Chinese companies are encouraging their employees to buy Huawei smartphones following Canada's arrest of a top Huawei executive on a US extradition request, which has triggered an outpouring of nationalist support.

Several companies are offering employees subsidies for Huawei phone purchases, while others have even warned staff against buying Apple products.

In eastern China, Fuchun Technology said "nearly 60" out of its 200 employees had taken advantage of 100 to 500 yuan (S$20 to S$100) worth of Huawei phone subsidies as of yesterday.

Another tech firm, Chengdu RYD Information Technology, has offered 15 per cent subsidies, though it declined to disclose how many employees have taken advantage of the benefits.

"We are supportive of good China-made brands," a spokesman told Agence France-Presse, adding that the subsidies are part of employee benefits and not "guided by the government".

One company has even threatened to fine staff who buy iPhones, charging them 100 per cent of the smartphone's market price.

"Stop buying US brands for company equipment," Shenzhen-based Menpad said in an internal notice, confirmed by AFP.

DOMESTIC SUPPORT

We are supportive of good China-made brands.

'' A SPOKESMAN FOR CHENGDU RYD INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY, which has offered 15 per cent subsidies to employees to buy Huawei phones.


MONEY TALKS

Stop buying US brands for company equipment.

'' MENPAD, a company based in Shenzhen, in a show of patriotism.

The surge of patriotism began after Ms Meng Wanzhou, Huawei's chief financial officer, was detained in Canada on Dec 1 on a US extradition request linked to sanctions-breaking business dealings with Iran.

She has since been released on bail pending her US extradition hearing, and is now living under electronic surveillance in her home in Vancouver.

Ottawa has repeatedly said Ms Meng's arrest was not political but rather part of a judicial process in keeping with an extradition treaty with Washington.

But some in China see Ms Meng's arrest as part of a broader conspiracy to suppress China's high-tech enterprises, with the nationalist tabloid Global Times accusing Washington of "resorting to a despicable rogue's approach" because it cannot stop Huawei's progress in the 5G market.

 
 

The internal notices announcing the Huawei subsidies started circulating on China's Twitter-like Weibo earlier this month, and have split Chinese Internet opinion.

Some users were in favour of buying phones in the name of patriotism, while others questioned whether or not Chinese firms were simply leveraging Huawei's case as a marketing strategy or branding opportunity.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 30, 2018, with the headline 'Chinese firms back Huawei phones amid stand-off with US'. Print Edition | Subscribe