PR chief of Baidu resigns after demanding 24-hour worker availability

It doesn’t look good when the PR chief of a huge tech company sparks a public relations crisis, but Baidu’s Qu Jing did just that with her videos demanding that workers be available 24 hours a day.

Chinese netizens were enraged when they saw Qu, the now-former vice president and head of communications at Baidu, the country’s largest search engine, publicly lashing out at the supposedly poor worker culture in China.

In a series of videos posted last week on Douyin, China’s version of TikTok, Qu spoke about her professional career and revealed how much she demands from subordinates in her direct reports.

For example, in one video, Qu threatened to retaliate against employees who complained about her, saying they wouldn’t get another job in the industry.

This kind of endorsement of toxic workplace culture struck a nerve among China’s young urban workers, who are already suffering from relentless pressure and extra long hours of work.

After also attacking, for instance, an employee who refused to go on a 50-day business trip during the Covid-19 pandemic, and saying that workers shouldn’t even expect weekends off, Qu has now lost her own job, according to CNN sources.

The American news outlet says that it has also seen a screenshot of an internal personnel system that appears to confirm Qu no longer works at Baidu. By Thursday, she had also removed the title of “Baidu’s vice president” from her account on Douyin.

It seems that although Qu had earlier apologized and removed the videos, it wasn’t enough for Chinese social media users. On Douyin and Weibo, China’s X-like platform, she was criticized for her aggressive and insensitive comments.

Chinese netizens and, more specifically, young tech workers have recently been more outspoken against the culture of overwork and radical competitiveness. To be fair, the trend is actually global.

However, China still seems like a special case. In 2019, Alibaba’s co-founder Jack Ma was also attacked after he endorsed the “996” trend – which means working from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. six days a week – and Huawei is famous for its ultra-aggressive corporate culture.

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