Chinese company threatens to fire employees for using iPhone 7
A heated discussion was prompted online after a Chinese company prohibited its employees from using the iPhone 7, the new Apple handset expected to hit the market late this year, in an act of what they call “patriotism” together with concerns over information leakage.
The “patriotic notice”, bizarre for some, was made by managers of the Hangzhou-based Bina Co. Ltd as a way of supporting China-made cellphones, according to the official local media outlet Zhejiang Online.
After it surfaced on China’s largest microblogging platform Sina Weibo on Tuesday, a buzz was caused online with many people criticizing the company’s move as “containing the free rights of consumption.”
“From today on, all those who buy an iPhone7 will be fired and will not ever be reemployed,” reads a line in a snapshot of the notice, dated July 18.
“Let China be in love with made-in-China,” the notice continued, hailing that as the company’s “motto”.
The statement also encourages its workers to replace their old iPhone handsets with phones from Chinese brands, by guaranteeing subsidies ranging from 1,000 to 2,500 yuan (150 to 370 US dollars).
In an interview with the Zhejiang Online, Zhang Miaolin, the company’s assistant general manager, said, “It’s also out of security concerns [as Apple products were previously exposed with information leakage risks].”
While being asked about whether the new regulations are abnormal, an unnamed employee replied, “It doesn’t ban us from using all iPhones, but only the iPhone 7. And for people who want to abandon their old iPhones, they can apply for the subsidies, which is actually a good thing.”
But the act has been widely condemned by people on social media.
“I don’t support blindly buying products of international brands but blind patriotism is equally stupid! I will quit if working in this company,” commented Weibo user @Jingmoliunianduolami.
“What should be first boycotted are: silly people!” echoed @Sy_bingzhang.
Responding to the abundant criticism, Chen Songtao, a Zhejiang-based lawyer, said the company will violate the national labor law if they fire anyone this way, as “buying cellphones is an individual’s ‘autonomous consumption act’ which is independent and protected by law.”
“If the company can prove that patent secrets could only be leaked via iPhones, it could tell its workers [to boycott]. But if they can’t, they can’t forcibly regulate this,” Yang Jianhua, head of the Institute for Public Policy of Zhejiang Academy of Social Sciences, told Zheijang Online.
This is, however, not an individual case of boycotts in the name of “patriotism” that stormed social media recently.
Over the past few days, scattered protests were seen in several Chinese cities, including Changsha in Hunan Province and Yangzhou in Jiangsu Province, to boycott foreign brands, especially fast-food chains such as KFC and McDonalds, in the wake of the arbitration ruling that favored the Philippines on the South China Sea issue.
Police have been taking actions to contain such radical acts, calling for people to be more rational.