Huawei fails to apologize to unfairly detained former employee but bemoans Meng Wanzhou's situation
Huawei has been facing an online backlash from a surprising source recently. While the company’s travails with the US government have been well documented, which previously afforded it considerable sympathy from Chinese users, it appears to be those same users that are now rising up against Huawei for its unreasonable treatment of a former employee, Li Hongyuan. Li was accused of trying to blackmail the Chinese company and ended up spending 251 days in custody before he was released.
Li, who started working for Huawei in October 2005, was informed that he no longer had a position with the company in January 2018. It seems that Li discovered department managers were falsifying performance data, which ended up in his unfair dismissal because he reported the issue. Li received a payment of 300,000 yuan (~US$45,000) in March from Huawei, which he believed was his severance pay. However, in December 2018, Li was arrested by police in Shenzhen and initially charged of trying to embezzle his former employer; he was later wrongfully accused of blackmail and extortion.
Huawei claimed that Li made the company pay up the 300,000 yuan to keep him quiet about his discoveries in regard to the data tampering. Li had denied this, and fortunately for the former employee his wife was able to produce recorded evidence of the payment being negotiated as part of a severance package with Huawei’s HR department. Li was acquitted and received 100,000 yuan (~US$14,181) in compensation from the state for his unlawful detainment, but Huawei has yet to apologize to him for his ordeal. In fact, a brash statement recently issued by the company has suggested that Li should sue Huawei if he feels his rights have been violated.
Unsurprisingly, there has been plenty of support for Li in China, with many taking to Weibo to voice their concerns over his treatment and Huawei’s failure to even offer an apology. However, Huawei has been careful to point out that its CFO, Meng Wanzhou, is still under house arrest in Canada awaiting an extradition hearing, which the company feels is “unlawful and illegal”. But Meng is living in a +US$10 million mansion in Vancouver and is afforded the majority of life’s comforts while Li Hongyuan would have had a completely unrelatable experience during his unfounded and protracted detainment in Shenzhen. An already belated apology seems the least Huawei should offer.