As China continues to straddle diplomatic positions on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, DiDi and Lenovo, two Chinese tech companies, have been under fire domestically for reports that they are suspending their Russian services.
On Feb. 21, three days before Russia started the invasion, Chinese ride-hailing company DiDi announced it would close down its 1.5-year-old service in Russia, the company’s Russian PR director Irina Gushchina told the country’s state news agency TASS.
While DiDi’s Russian branch has been reportedly burning cash since its launch and DiDi is also undergoing a companywide layoff, the recent move was soon interpreted in China as the result of political calculations. Nationalist influencers in China, who have mostly sided with Russia in this conflict, accused DiDi of colluding with Western sanctions.
Facing a reputational crisis, DiDi reversed its decision and published a statement Saturday on domestic social platform Weibo: “DiDi Chuxing will not shut down its local services in Russia. In the future, it will continue to operate in Russia and better serve the drivers and riders.”
Meanwhile, the Chinese-born multinational PC-maker Lenovo is going through a similar crisis. On Friday, the Belarusian media outlet Nexta reported on Twitter that Lenovo, along with American PC companies Intel and Dell, has “suspended shipments of products to Russia.” (While Belarus has sided with Russia in the military conflict, Nexta is founded by Belarusian dissidents who are now in exile in Poland.)
The Lenovo news, while unconfirmed, reached Chinese social media platforms over the weekend. Sima Nan, a notorious nationalist influencer who has repeatedly attacked Lenovo for not being patriotic enough, chimed in on the Nexta report and suggested that Lenovo is joining Western sanctions.
Lenovo did not immediately respond to Protocol’s request for comment.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled Irina Gushchina's name. This story was updated on Feb. 28, 2021.