Huawei punishes staff for tweeting via iPhone

In an internal Huawei memo dated Jan 3, corporate senior vice-president and director of the board Chen Lifang said "the incident caused damage to the Huawei brand".
In an internal Huawei memo dated Jan 3, corporate senior vice-president and director of the board Chen Lifang said "the incident caused damage to the Huawei brand".PHOTO: AFP

HONG KONG • China's Huawei Technologies has punished two employees for New Year greetings sent on the smartphone maker's official Twitter account using an iPhone, an internal memo showed.

On New Year's Day, Huawei, whose P-series handsets compete with Apple's iPhone, sent a "Happy #2019" message to followers in a tweet marked sent "via Twitter for iPhone".

The tweet was quickly removed but screenshots of the blunder spread across social media.

"The traitor has revealed himself," quipped one user on microblog Weibo, in a comment "liked" over 600 times.

In an internal Huawei memo dated Jan 3 seen by Reuters, corporate senior vice-president and board director Chen Lifang said "the incident caused damage to the Huawei brand".

The mistake occurred when outsourced social media handler Sapient experienced "VPN problems" with a desktop computer, so it used an iPhone with a roaming SIM card to send the message on time at midnight, Huawei said in the memo.

Twitter, like several foreign services such as those from Facebook and Alphabet, is blocked in China, where the Internet is heavily censored. To gain access, users need a virtual private network (VPN) connection.

Huawei, which overtook Apple as the world's second-largest smartphone vendor by volume in January-September, declined to comment on internal issues when contacted by Reuters.

Sapient did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment sent via the contact form on its website. Calls to its Beijing office went unanswered.

In the memo, Huawei said it had demoted two employees responsible by one rank and reduced their monthly salaries by 5,000 yuan (S$1,000).

It is not the first time the use of the Apple product has given cause for embarrassment.

Mr Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of nationalistic tabloid Global Times, was mocked online last year after he used his iPhone when expressing support for Huawei and domestic peer ZTE Corp. He later said his actions were not hypocritical as foreign brands should not be discriminated against.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 05, 2019, with the headline 'Huawei punishes staff for tweeting via iPhone'. Print Edition | Subscribe