Chinese video streaming giant, iQiyi faced strong online backlash over the regional discrimination of an applicant from central China’s Henan Province.
The company apologized on Friday by posting an open letter on its official account on China’s Twitter-like Weibo, confirming the case was true and saying that they had already fired the staff who were allegedly involved in this case.
On Wednesday, a screenshot of the company’s e-mail that suggested it filtered the resume of an applicant from Henan Province circulated on Chinese social media and received widespread criticism from netizens.
In the e-mail, a human resources staff member sent an email to another staff member asking them to filter resumes of applicants from Henan Province from any job interviews in the future. The e-mail also revealed that the applicant from Henan Province was currently a second-year masters student at China’s Central University of Finance and Economics, one of the country’s leading comprehensive universities.
The company’s discrimination over the applicant from Henan Province has triggered outrage among Chinese netizens despite its public apology.
A netizen from Henan Province commented on social media that they had always treated people sincerely and kindly and that they were stung by the company’s actions. The netizen added that the company was blacklisted and that the development of the company wouldn’t be positive under such a philosophy.
Another netizen shared a screenshot of their mobile phone, showing that they were going to delete the app.
In fact, regional discrimination has always been an issue with job interviews from internet companies in China. Meituan Dianping, one of the country's largest providers of on-demand online services, publicly listed its requirements for its applicants as “no ugly resumes, no PhD or Masters, no drivers of Volkswagen, no fanatics of Chinese traditional medicine, no origins from Yellow River flood area and northeast regions” in May, 2017, which received widespread criticism on Chinese social media.
Meizu Technology Co., A Chinese smartphone brand, was accused of regional discrimination against Henan people when it posted a picture of a well lid accompanied by a sentence saying “Henan people actually don’t steal this kind of thing”, implying the truth of a long-lasting bad stereotype of Henan people in China.
But why have Henan people been facing so much discrimination in China? Where does this stereotype originate from? According to an answer on Zhihu, the Quora-equivalent in China, the economic development of Henan Province was largely restricted due to its geographical location and large population, which resulted in discrimination against Henan people seeking employment in other cities.
However, as China speeds up its economic development in all regions and areas in the country, many people, especially the young generation, do not hold these stereotypes.
"One of my roommates in my university is from Henan province, and she is a nice girl and has a strong will. We all like her very much. So, as a Chinese, I hate such indiscriminate views on other people when the only basis of judgement is where he or she comes from. That's ridiculous," commented Quora user @JUDYwong.