Baidu Head Of PR Loses Job Over Controversial Posts

Baidu’s head of public relations has left the company following controversy over a series of short videos in which she glorified intense work practices.

“If you work in public relations, don’t expect weekends off,” Baidu’s former head of PR Qu Jing said in one of the videos posted on Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok. “Keep your phone on 24 hours a day, always ready to respond.”

In another she said she had no responsibility to care for the well-being of her staff because “I’m not your mother”.

Baidu’s internal personnel system shows that Qu, previously a vice-president, is no longer employed at the company, according to local media reports.

‘Not your mother’

In her posts Qu said she was working so hard she forgot her elder son’s birthday and what grade her younger son was in at school. She said she didn’t regret it because she “chose to become a career woman”.

She threatened to retaliate against employees who complained. “I can make it impossible for you to find a job in this industry with just a short essay,” she said.

The posts are no longer online and Qu later acknowledged that they drew “very pertinent” criticism.

“I apologise that the inappropriate videos led to the public’s misunderstanding of my company’s values and corporate culture,” she wrote on social media.

“I will learn from my mistakes and improve the way I communicate, and care more for my colleagues.”

‘Wolf culture’

Qu joined Baidu in 2021 from Huawei, which is known for its intense “wolf culture”, which she brought with her to Baidu, a former Baidu employee told CNN.

“(She triggered) a pretty big culture shock. About 60 percent of the team left within months of her arrival,” the former employee said.

The controversy comes amidst a backlash against so-called “996” work practices — 9am to 9pm, six days a week — that are common in many Chinese companies and especially the tech industry.

In 2019 Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma drew intense criticism for endorsing “996” practices, calling them a “huge blessing”.

The backlash broadened into a regulatory clampdown on China’s biggest tech companies and the pervasiveness of social media, online gaming and smartphones, amongst other areas.

Matthew Broersma

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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