How US and Chinese Tech Giants React Differently to the COVID-19 Outbreak

As the COVID-19 crisis continues, it is clear that this is not just a battle in China, but a global challenge. As the disease spreads, we see tech companies around the world taking initiatives to combat COVID-19.

Companies in the US have taken drastically different approaches from those employed by Chinese tech giants. The differing approaches of the world’s two leading tech ecosystems, can provide insight into the different concepts of corporate social responsibility in western and eastern cultures.

American social media platforms are keen on the integrity of the COVID19-related content; while Chinese social media platforms focus on the distribution of health information. It’s no surprise that both American and Chinese tech companies see the power of social media during an epidemic.

SEE ALSO: Wuhan Coronavirus Outbreak Could be the Dawn of Vegan Meat, Remote Work and More

Fighting infectious diseases requires the cooperation of practically every citizen. Social media platforms are no longer only a place for selfies, but also the most effective distribution channels for accurate resources and information on COVID-19.

While Chinese social media platforms are actively engaging conversations around COVID-19, the US social media platforms are taking precautions, following the expected spike of misinformation.

The US:

  • Late Jan: Facebook bans ads that promise a coronavirus cure
  • Feb 9th: Instagram reroutes people to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website when clicking #coronavirus
  • Mar 3rd: Facebook announces free ads for WHO
  • Mar 4th: Twitter announces a plan to combat COVID19

China:

  • Jan 22nd: Baidu App launches a new channel dedicated to COVID-19 related news
  • Jan 22nd: Kuaishou launches a new channel dedicated to COVID-19 related news
  • Jan 23rd: Toutiao launches a new channel dedicated to COVID-19 related news
  • Jan 23rd: Douyin/Tiktok launches a new channel dedicated to COVID-19 related news
  • Jan 23rd: WeChat launches a new channel to allow “live-update on COVID19 news”

The US tech companies are proactive in providing financial security to employees; Chinese tech companies are proactive in donations.

As of March 8th, the US has announced over 400 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the same number of infected cases in China as of Jan 21st, despite China’s much larger population and higher population density.

In response to the situation, tech companies in the US switched to remote work, while publicly assuring financial security to their hourly workers and gig workers.

Looking back at how Chinese tech companies responded to the rising number of infected cases in January, few companies publicly offered financial security to employees at this stage. In rare cases, employee benefits are only offered to employees in Wuhan or from Wuhan. However, a few Chinese companies made monetary donations and utilized their network to purchase medical equipment with the donation.

The US:

  • Mar 5th: Microsoft offers to pay regular wages even if working hours are reduced due to COVID-19
  • Mar 6th: Facebook commits to pay hourly workers
  • Mar 6th: Google commits to pay hourly workers
  • Mar 6th: Amazon commits to pay hourly workers
  • Mar 6th: Twitter commits to pay hourly workers

China:

  • Jan 24th – Feb 7th: Tencent donated 1.5B RMB
  • Jan 25th – Jan 29th: Alibaba donated 1.1B RMB
  • Jan 26th: Baidu donated 300M RMB

The US tech companies made existing products/features free; Chinese tech companies launched new features to combat the virus

Several tech companies in the US offered their previously paid products/services to the public for free. Chinese tech companies took a step further to develop new features that are specifically designed to overcome this international crisis.

The US:

  • Mar 4th: Microsoft offers collaborative tool Teams for free
  • Mar 4th: Google offers advanced features for Hangouts Meet to all G Suite and G Suite for Education customers globally

China:

More information on how Chinese tech companies combat coronavirus with innovative solutions, check out my two previous articles below:

Final Note

The US and Chinese tech companies have drastically different reactions to the situation. The culture differences play a major role in how companies react to an international crisis like this. Also, regulations and the financial considerations and structure of the companies are affecting decisions. It is uplifting to see more and more tech companies are joining forces to combat the COVID-19. What is your company doing to overcome the crisis?