HONG KONG (Reuters) – China's Huawei Technologies [HWT.UL] has punished two employees for the New Year greeting sent on the smartphone manufacturer's official Twitter account using an iPhone, showing an internal note.
A sales assistant looks at her mobile phone as she waits for customers behind a counter at a Huawei fair in Wuhan, Hubei Province October 10, 2012. REUTERS / Stringer / File Photo
Huawei, whose P-series handset compete with Apple's iPhone, on New Year's Day, audience wanted a "Happy # 2019" in a tweet tag sent "via Twitter for iPhone".
Tweets were quickly removed, but screenshots of the blunder spread across social media.
"The traitor has revealed himself," said a user at microblog Weibo, in a comment "liked" over 600 times.
(Click here for an interactive graphic by Apple vs. Huawei tmsnrt.rs/2GPPIRI)
In an internal Huawei note dated January 3, seen by Reuters, corporate life's vice president and board member Chen Lifang said, "The incident caused damage to the Huawei brand ".
The error occurred when outsourced social media handler Sapient experienced "VPN problems" with a desktop computer, then used an iPhone with a roaming SIM card to send the message on time at midnight, Huawei said in the note.
Twitter, as several foreign services such as those from Facebook Inc and Alphabet Inc, are blocked in China, where the Internet is heavily censored. For access, users must have a Virtual Private Network (VPN) connection.
Huawei, who took over Apple as the world's second largest smartphone provider in January-September, refused to comment on internal issues when contacted by Reuters.
Sapient did not immediately respond to a request for comment sent via the contact form on its website. Calls to the Beijing office went unanswered.
Huawei in the note said the blunder showed procedural incompatibility and management monitoring. It said it had demoted two employees in charge of a rank and reduced the monthly salary by 5,000 yuan ($ 728.27).
The payment interest rate to one of the employees – Huawei's digital marketing director – will also be frozen for 12 months, it said.
It's not the first time the use of the Apple product has caused embarrassment.
Hu Xijin, chief editor of the nationalist tabloid Global Times, was scorned online last year after using his iPhone when he expressed support for Huawei and domestic jury ZTE Corp. He later said that his actions were not hypocritical as foreign brands should not be discriminated against
Reporting Sijia Jiang; Editing Christopher Cushing