Chinese tech firm Xiaomi apologises for joke suggesting it didn’t want to hire Japanese-language students

HR representative takes ‘full responsibility’ for remark made at recruitment fair that led to some people walking out of presentation

PUBLISHED : Monday, 25 September, 2017, 3:50pm
UPDATED : Monday, 25 September, 2017, 4:08pm

Chinese tech firm Xiaomi has apologised for a joke about Japanese-language students made by one of its representatives at a university recruitment fair.

On Saturday Henan Daily reported that Xiaomi’s human resources representative Qin Tao told a room full of students at Zhengzhou University in Henan province: “If you’re an English or Arabic major, you can come join us because they are our overseas markets.

“If you’re majoring in Japanese, you should leave.”

The report said most of the 200 students present at the talk on Friday laughed at the comment, but Li Min, who is studying Japanese at the university, left the presentation with her coursemates because she found Qin’s statement offensive.

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“We are all adults, and we are not stupid either,” she was quoted as saying.

Word of the incident quickly spread to social media, where users of the popular microblog Weibo posted messages asking Xiaomi chief executive Lei Jun to explain the remarks.

In response, Qin published a “sincere apology” via his personal Weibo account on Saturday.

He claimed “full responsibility” for the offensive remarks and apologised for the suggestion that the company discriminated against Japanese-language graduates during the hiring process.

“Like this comment if you agree that he should be fired,” said the top-rated comment on Qin’s post, which gained over 10,000 likes.

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“I am a Japanese-language student, and we are no less patriotic than students in other departments,” said another user. “We are Chinese people too, and want to make a valuable contribution to society.”

Long-standing historic tensions between China and Japan still resurface periodically and can manifest themselves in bursts of anti-Japanese sentiment in China’s mainland.

According to Xiaomi’s official statement released on Sunday, Qin had personally apologised to all the students involved and had been reprimanded by the company.

“We fully condemn discriminatory behaviour against any nationality,” the statement said.

It added that the company would improve its training procedures to prevent such an incident happening again.