Analyst calls for more global staff in key positions
It's natural for international staff to make contributions to China's corporate champions' success and they should recruit more global staff as they become truly transnational companies, analysts said on Tuesday.
The comment came after an online post claimed that some of Huawei Technologies Co's best-selling smartphones were designed by employees of Japanese nationality.
Xu Jingbo, a Chinese scholar who studied in Japan, said that some 400 Japanese employees at the Chinese telecoms company were behind its best-selling smartphones. "Huawei is smart - it bought bright brains, not machines [like many manufacturers do,]" Xu said.
An online post focusing on Xu's claims had attracted more than 1,000 comments as of press time on Tuesday, but Chinese netizens pointed out that Xu's claims are inaccurate. Many said that it is very natural that a globalized Chinese firm would hire international staff, a norm of economic globalization.
And many netizens said they are happy that Huawei, as a Chinese brand, could leverage global talent to drive its growth.
Huawei declined to comment on the matter.
Xiang Ligang, chief executive of telecom industry news site cctime.com, told the Global Times that while Huawei has many foreign employees among its 180,000-strong staff, Japanese nationals' contributions seem to have no connection to its smartphones.
"The 400-strong Japanese team in Yokohama, as far as I know, is mainly devoted to the study of the Internet of Things," Xiang said.
"There are many systems that determine the success of a smartphone product, including research and development (R&D) of the operating system, communications, batteries, and cameras. The more smartphone-related research is done in Shanghai and Beijing, primarily in Shanghai," Xiang said.
As a company that invests heavily in R&D, about 45 percent of Huawei's employees work in the field of R&D on a wide range of subjects including smartphones, the company's 2017 annual report said.
While it is hard to say whether there are Japanese staff in Shanghai and Beijing who contribute to the development of smartphones, most of the foreign employees of Huawei work in their home markets, Xiang said.
Experts said the success of Huawei is, no doubt, the result of efforts by a global talent pool and having a global supply chain.
"The company's German team works on ways to improve the Leica camera, a 'killer' function of Huawei smartphones, and the team in Finland optimizes graphics," Xiang said. Many core parts of Huawei phones such as sensors are supplied by Japanese brands.
Liu Dingding, a Beijing-based industry analyst, said that the discussion is interesting as it raises the question of to what extent can China's global champions recruit and utilize global talent.
To Liu, Huawei's integration of international talent appears to fall short of other global giants, as many of them even hire foreign nationals for top posts.
"Top tech companies such as Qualcomm, Apple and Microsoft all hire a great number of staff with overseas backgrounds. The important thing is not engineers' nationality, it is all about engineers' products," Liu said.
"Yet, as reform and opening-up goes deeper in China, it is expected that we will see more foreign employees at Chinese companies. They won't just work in ordinary departments or posts but also core departments or posts, to bring a global input to China's leading transnational companies," Liu said.
"From a long-term view, this will do more good than harm," Liu said, noting that sectors like the automotive industry already saw such a change when ownership restrictions on foreign capital were removed.
The discussion of Huawei phones also followed media reports that Huawei's new flagship Mate20 series is selling so well that many of its retail shops have run out of stock.
But Huawei told the Global Times on Tuesday the reports are not true and the phones are not out of stock.
The company's smartphone shipments totaled 153 million units in 2017, making it one of the world's top three, the annual report said.