14:40 GMT30 October 2020
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    Chinese phone manufacturer Huawei Technologies punished two employees on Wednesday for a widely shared tweet on the company’s official Twitter account that was posted using an iPhone made by their bitter rivals, the American company Apple. Huawei said the blunder “caused damage to the Huawei brand.”

    On New Year's Eve, two employees accidentally posted a new year's greeting on Huawei's official Twitter account using an iPhone. According to a January 3 corporate memo obtained by Reuters, one was head of Huawei's digital marketing team and government relations team.

    The faux pas was first noticed by web video producer Marques Brownlee, whose tweet of a screenshot of the Huawei tweet has been liked 47,000 times and shared nearly 7,000 times. Soon enough, other news outlets caught wind — and so did Huawei bigwigs, who demoted the two employees by one rank and cut their salaries by 5,000 yuan ($728.27).

    ​The reason for this error, according to the memo, was that outsourced social media handler Sapient encountered virtual private network (VPN) problems on a desktop computer, so the employees instead posted the tweet from their iPhone using a roaming SIM card in order to get the midnight message up on time.

    Reuters explains that this trick was necessary because Chinese internet censorship limits access to foreign services such as Twitter, meaning users must use a VPN to connect to them.

    Unfortunately, the tweet got stamped with "via Twitter for iPhone" in the process.

    "The incident caused damage to the Huawei brand," corporate senior vice-president and director of the board Chen Lifang wrote in the memo, noting that employees must now "tighten management of suppliers and partners" because the incident "exposed flaws in our processes and management."

    Stakes are high in the race between Huawei and its American rival, which they overtook in August as the world's second largest smartphone vendor by volume (the largest is the South Korean maker Samsung). A Chinese court injunction last month in the ongoing patent dispute with chip maker Qualcomm reportedly barred the sale of most iPhones in China, including the iPhone 6s through iPhone X series, Axios reported.

    Tensions with Huawei especially have reached new heights since its CFO, Meng Wanzhou, was arrested in Canada last month at Washington's request, on suspicion of engaging in conspiracies to defraud multiple financial institutions and contravene US sanctions on Iran, Sputnik reported.

    Meng's arrest has spurred a nationalistic trend among Chinese tech companies, who are increasingly throwing their weight behind Huawei. Nikkei Asian Review reported on December 24 that dozens of Chinese companies are subsidizing their employees' purchases of Huawei smartphones, up to 20 percent of the cost of the phone in some cases.

    For example, electronics maker Shanghai Youluoke Electronic and Technology is covering the entire cost of up to two Huawei phones per employee, while Shenzhen Yidaheng Technology is providing its workers with 18 percent of the costs of buying either a Huawei or ZTE phone, another Chinese maker that's come under criticism by US authorities and those of US-aligned nations like Australia.

    It's not just limited to tech companies, though. Nikkei reported that a Henan brewer will give customers 30 percent of their Huawei phone's price worth of free booze if they present their receipt at the establishment.

    Free beer vs. an iPhone? This Sputnik writer knows which they would take (it's not the Apple).


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