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Huawei crackdown

Huawei pays staff mega 'dedication' bonus for resisting Trump

Payout is latest initiative by China's biggest telecoms firm to counter US pressure

Huawei Founder Ren Zhengfei gestures as he chats with Huawei executives at the company campus in Shenzhen, China. The Chinese telecom giant on Monday said it will double employees' October salaries.   © AP

LOS ANGELES -- Huawei Technologies, the world's largest telecoms equipment maker, will double staff salaries in October to thank its over 190,000 employees for enduring the Trump administration's blacklisting of the Chinese company for allegedly spying on behalf of Beijing.

"In 2019, the company and all employees were, and are, facing extraordinarily external challenges," said an internal message to staff obtained by the Nikkei Asian Review. "Upon approval by the company's president, a special dedication award will be paid."

The bonus, which is the latest step taken by Huawei to shore-up its image at home and abroad as Washington has cracked down on the company, will be distributed to all active employees of Huawei and its direct subsidiaries with a performance rating above C and no information security violations, the memo said. The bonus will be equal to each staff member's base October salary.

Huawei, which is the world's second biggest smartphone manufacturer, has become a focal point in the dispute between the world's two biggest economies as they jostle for global economic, financial, military and technological supremacy. Washington alleges that Huawei collects information for Beijing, allegations that Huawei has consistently denied.

With 194,000 employees spread across 170 countries, and over $105 billion of annual revenues, the company has spared no effort in its attempts to try and protect its brand from the Washington onslaught, which has centered on a ban of its use of U.S. technology.

The U.S. crackdown, which Huawei has said would cost its overall business around $10 billion in sales this year, has prompted the company to redeploy senior executives and scientists who have U.S. links due to growing concern that they could be co-opted by American agents and leak confidential data.

Company recruiters have also approached senior journalists from several foreign media companies such as Reuters, Bloomberg and U.S. newspapers, with offers of pay packages in excess of $200,000 for public relations director roles, Nikkei Asian Review has learned.

In addition, Chinese media have reported that Huawei engineers would receive an additional bonus of around $14,000. Huawei had not responded to a request for comment at the time of publication.

Huawei's decision to award the special bonuses was timed to top up employee bank accounts following "Singles Day," a marketing concept developed by Chinese internet commerce giant Alibaba that resembles Black Friday or Cyber Monday in the U.S.

Also known as "Double Eleven," the shopping extravaganza, which racked up more than $38 billion of sales on Monday, derives its name the date November 11, where the four ones symbolize being single and not being in a relationship.

Huawei's scale and domination of the 5G technology that is the backbone of next-generation mobile communications networks and artificial intelligence applications, have long been a U.S. concern.

Huawei, which is not publicly listed, has embarked on a public relations and legal offensive to counter Washington's lobbying of allies to not use Huawei equipment when building fifth-generation (5G) mobile networks, citing a 2017 Chinese law that requires national companies to cooperate with national intelligence work.

Founder and Chief Executive Ren Zhengfei has said Huawei has never, and will never share data with China's government.

As part of its efforts to attract talented staff and achieve technological self-sufficiency, senior Huawei executives regularly broadcast that they want to recruit "young geniuses" from around the world, actively publicizing that new hires with doctorates can receive salary packages this year as high as 2 million yuan ($281,000), more than Google or Apple offer.

"We can find mathematicians in Russia, scientists from Europe... if we can't from the U.S.," Huawei's founder and chief executive Ren Zhengfei said in a September news conference at the company's headquarters in Shenzhen.

Despite the U.S. technology ban, sales for Huawei, which means "China Can Make It," have continued to soar. But not all of its initiatives have been successful. This year, the growth rate of its home city Schenzen has fallen to its slowest level in 40 years, underlining the impact of the Washington's actions against the company and China more broadly.

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