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International investigation alleges anti-Western discrimination within Huawei

Four European newspapers have investigated Huawei’s internal policies and found evidence that some of them punish Chinese employees for marrying Westerners.

The investigation was carried out by a consortium called the Signals Network. One of its members is the UK Telegraph, which headlines its account of the findings: ‘Huawei expat employees that marry westerners faced being forced to leave Europe or be sacked, investigation reveals’. It goes on to allege that ‘marrying a local in Europe is informally viewed within the company as an act of betrayal’.

According to the Telegraph, Huawei’s HR handbook states that ‘Chinese employees who have married Europeans or applied for citizenship must leave Europe “as soon as possible”, or be sacked from the company altogether.’ When approached by the Telegraph a Huawei spokesperson told them the policy has been dropped, thus confirming it was once in place and could have been actively enforced until recently. Having said that, the spokesperson indicated the policy was never implemented in the UK.

Telecoms.com asked Huawei for comment and received the following statement: “Huawei has employees of many nationalities working around the world. This includes Chinese expatriate employees working in Europe. It is a policy that is beneficial to the employees, the company and to the host countries where all sides can work together and exchange views.

“In line with many other international companies, there is a process of rotation in which expat employees are moved through a number of overseas assignments after a set time typically agreed in advance. This is a system which is very popular with employees who value the rich mix of experience.  At all times, employees are free to discuss their future career moves with their local managers and department heads.”

We also know of current Huawei employees whose personal experiences appear to contradict this investigation, including at least one Chinese employee who married an EU citizen and has had no interaction with HR on the matter. Having said that, the above statement could have gone a lot further in refuting the claims made by the investigation if there’s no substance to them.

Spain’s El Mundo went with a similar angle to the Telegraph, as far as we can tell from the paywalled piece. Republik focuses on a couple of anecdotal accounts, while Netzpolitik talks of an internal ‘wolf culture’ in which employees are heavily controlled and pushed to their limits. This seems consistent with the nuance added further down the Telegraph story that says the alleged sanctions only apply if Chinese employees who want to stay in Europe refuse to leave when demanded by Huawei.

It’s hard to know what to make of all this. Chinese and Western European cultures obviously have their differences and Huawei is free to implement its own policies as it sees fit. But stories like this feed the narrative of Huawei being in lock-step with the often repressive and, at times, xenophobic Chinese Communist Party. Thus they represent an additional reputational challenge for the embattled vendor to try to overcome.


25 comments

  1. Avatar Andy Tiller 13/01/2021 @ 4:08 pm

    My experience (having Chinese family members living in China as well as colleagues there) is that Chinese people tend to have a lot more faith in authority and trust their bosses, and their government, much more than we do in the West. They don’t ‘feel’ repressed (although I acknowledge they don’t live in Xinjiang) – for example, their strict adherence to lockdown was not from fear of reprisals by a repressive regime, but rather out of a genuine desire to obey the law, be good citizens and protect their communities. In the West we tend to assume that if the government or company asks a lot of us then it’s an affront to our civil liberties. In China it’s different – they assume that the authorities are doing what’s best for their citizens/employees. And I think most Chinese are feeling rather pleased right now that their society is not in political chaos like the US, nor under lockdown restrictions like the rest of us due to Covid.

    • Avatar KN 13/01/2021 @ 5:27 pm

      Well said !
      Perhaps it might be due to their Confucian belief and work ethics

      • Avatar Veddah 14/01/2021 @ 10:22 am

        Are there any races that disrespect authority?
        Huawei is a cooperative. Therefore,there will be elected leaders.

    • Avatar happiman 17/01/2021 @ 7:37 pm

      That what exactly German people obeyed to the evil Nazi.

  2. Avatar Valmik Soni 13/01/2021 @ 6:04 pm

    Having lived in China for 15 years, on and off for business I agree to the previous comment by Andy

  3. Avatar Alvaro 13/01/2021 @ 6:21 pm

    Regarding management in Huawei, it is indeed not like European style. Chinese cannot confront or express their with Chinese manager, they are regarded as leader, never argue and never talk to express their view towards their leader. Let me say: a dictatorial way of behave.
    Manager for Huawei is a really big word, what a manager means? An individual in charge of a team without any skills for being a manager for leading projects and for judging on employees performance.
    We are not inventing the wheels, on culture and management style, A study of differences of Chinese and Swedish management style from Swedish perception has already been done https://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:638298/FULLTEXT01.pdf
    COVID-19 period, Huawei has shown that has NO Human Right, push people to be away from their family and loved one
    A full Huawei BAN from US, SouThAmerica, European is what should be done https://www.mobileworldlive.com/featured-content/home-banner/huawei-vows-to-appease-sweden-over-5g-ban?ID=a6g1r0000010b0kAAA&JobID=602742&utm_source=sfmc&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=MWL_20201208&utm_content=https%3a%2f%2fwww.mobileworldlive.com%2ffeatured-content%2fhome-banner%2fhuawei-vows-to-appease-sweden-over-5g-ban

  4. Avatar Steven Benson 13/01/2021 @ 9:05 pm

    In Australia, anyone who associates themselves with Chinese billionaires or government workers, are automatically suspected and smeared as possible traitors. Such oversensitive paranoia seems to also affect the Chinese too. Tho it’s kinda stupid. You cannot suspect or see someone as a security risk simply because of their nationality. Ironically that’s the entire reason Why Huawei is being banned because of baseless paranoia and discrimination. It’s obvious that Meng is a priority political focus for america because Huawei’s 5g is a massive threat to them.

    • Avatar E S 14/01/2021 @ 9:40 am

      Again this racism and discrimination story. They weaponise racism because the west is full of self loathing sissies afraid of thinking critically and tackling uncomfortable issues. And it works.

      Huawei is an existential threat: our 4.0 society will be entirely based on the 5g infrastructure. The 5g infrastructure has millions of nodes (stations) spread across the countries and it takes years to install them. Make your infrastructure Chinese and you will become hostage to that regime: they could just threaten to stop supplying you spare parts and will force your country to comply with their demands. You cannot afford to have connectivity issues in a 4.0 society. Furthermore it is enough to build back backdoors in few nodes in a city and you’re screwed. There’s not going to be complete oversight over all stations and equipment when they are manufactured, due to the quantities. Huawei is known for industrial espionage and the Chinese have indulged in espionage practices against foreign governments, take the African Union as an example. You cannot hand over your 5g infrastructure to an adversary who could perform denial of service attacks easily since they build it in case there is a crisis.

      Huawei says it would not comply with the Chinese government’s orders, but we all know what Chinese promises are and where they lead. We all know how compliant the Chinese are towards their government as seen here, they can’t even marry foreigners. Huawei is simply a trojan horse and time ticking bomb.

  5. Avatar Timothy Seeger 13/01/2021 @ 9:54 pm

    It was the West that started it , I’ve reported your site as misleading and incorrect.

    • Scott Bicheno Scott Bicheno 14/01/2021 @ 9:09 am

      LOL, who to?

      • Avatar Loltastic 14/01/2021 @ 10:30 am

        To Donald Trump. 🤣🤣

  6. Avatar M 14/01/2021 @ 1:04 am

    What do you expect when the west keeps attacking Huawei? Its bound to cause resentment, to think otherwise is foolish. Not saying it’s right, but one also needs to look into the probably causes and lay blame where blame needs to be layed.

  7. Avatar Chris Brennan 14/01/2021 @ 2:47 am

    Respect for authority can also be abused by the same authority they’ve placed their trust in. The Communist Party seems to relish in abusing those that do not abide by their form of control. Just look at Jack Marigny now. The fact is, the Chinese state facilitates their companies like Huawei telling them who you can and cannot marry.

    You can only complain about having your civil liberties abused once you have civil liberties. The Chinese people for the most part do not have them. They love in ignorant bliss.

    • Avatar Peter 14/01/2021 @ 10:49 pm

      Yes, the West is taking on a ‘mentally sick’ approach to China, stoked on by US fear that they (China) are outsmarting them on both industrial output and international relationship (except those that can be controlled by US influence). Time to learn that coexistence is the current and future winning strategy.

      • Avatar skedge 16/01/2021 @ 3:39 am

        Ahhh yes, Australian’s are supposed to learn that installing Huawei telecom systems whether they want to or not is a satisfactory means of coexistence, as China would see it.

  8. Avatar Chris Brennan 14/01/2021 @ 2:49 am

    Jack Ma of Alibaba group I who I were speaking of in my previous comment. Funny, this were typed on my Huawei phone. Coincidence? LOL!

    • Avatar Veddah 14/01/2021 @ 10:28 am

      Jack Ma is the owner of Alina. Huawei is owned by all its 104,000 workers.

  9. Avatar William 14/01/2021 @ 6:22 pm

    I see there are a lot of anti China and Huawei sentiments.
    Huawei HR has every rights to implement policies that seemed to be anti EU. The affected employees compromised and had no complaints. So why the fuss about?
    In Australia, UK and US the Chinese are looked upon as spies even though they were naturalized citizens. Is this not being racism?

  10. Avatar Sam 14/01/2021 @ 8:00 pm

    It good that huawei weeded out those that marry a non Chinese person! In return all western company should do the same any one that Marty a Chinese person should be weeded out!

  11. Avatar Chris Heale 14/01/2021 @ 8:35 pm

    If Chinese are good citizens and trust their CCP Government why implement the Social Dredit System. Will Chinese who marry foreigners in the future lose valuable social credit points and be unable to book flight tickets be unable to ‘buy’ property or obtain loans. If Facial recognition systems cop you jaywalking WHILE walking with your Laowai or Gweilo you will be in real strife!!

    • Avatar Chris Heale 14/01/2021 @ 8:54 pm

      As a further note to the above. As a very serious warning to all other countries China is currently in the process of cutting of all imported goods from Australia sometimes at great cost to the Chinese Economy. This punishment is not only because the Morrison Government loudly called for an investigation into the intial outbreak of covid-19 in Hubei Province so a future outbreak may be prevented but also because Huawei was banned from 5G network because of National Security concerns from Australian Intelligence Serviices (Five Eyes?)

  12. Avatar Fing e'ryu 15/01/2021 @ 12:05 am

    LMAO 🤣 good one Huawei.

  13. Avatar Alex 15/01/2021 @ 1:44 am

    Interesting. So, US tells to everyone that Huawei presents a security threat. Unfortunately, US couldn’t provide any proof. So, the whole ‘national security threat’ is to attempt to fence the market for US companies.
    What happens if US companies supply the soft/hardware for a country? Everything will be controlled by US. Wanna know how that goes? Search for “Juniper Cisco NSA 2013”.

  14. Avatar Tony Goodrich 15/01/2021 @ 2:13 am

    Discipline of Chinese plebes is because of (good) Citizen Score which everybody and all of the crowd want to abide. Low citizen score prevents them to travel , ban them from flights and high speed trains. Being a co-operative citizen gives you bonus score like reporting to the committee the foreigner neighbor’s whereabouts,just as example. Chinese driving culture improved because of the millions of cameras which in a fraction of a second identify the driver and impose penalties in money and reduce citizen score. The Chinese readers will object my writing, but they actually know the truth.

  15. Avatar GjBb 18/01/2021 @ 12:00 am

    The CCP/Huawei have proven themselves poor partners by thinking bullying is reasonable behaviour when their actions are called into question. All the countries signed to B&R will rue the day they signed up. Look at all the poor countries already in trouble. They have lost a large part of their sovereignty and paid China for the privilege🤦🏼‍♂️. If the CCP learn to act as a beneficial partner then things might change. But right now nobody can see that happening.

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