South Korean electronics manufacturer Samsung is dealing with yet another scandal after pictures emerged of Chinese managers apparently being forced to bow deeply on stage.
The submissive gesture, performed at a dealers’ meeting in Shijiazhuang, Hebei, was intended to thank Chinese distributors for placing new orders despite the recent scandal surrounding the company’s Note 7 Smartphone.
A problem with the device’s lithium ion battery led some units to combust, prompting a ban from many airlines and a worldwide recall of the device.
Critics of the company allege Samsung ignored local custom in China, where the gesture is rarely performed and considered deeply debasing. Some noted that one man in the image appeared to have his head forcibly pressed down by another executive.
A Samsung spokesperson subsequently said that nobody was forced to bow, and Chinese executives were in fact touched by their South Korean colleagues’ gesture and voluntarily followed suit.
That hasn’t stopped the backlash online, though. Chinese netizens have accused Samsung of “not treating employees like humans” and “making Chinese shoulder the blame” for the Note 7 fiasco, going so far as to call for a boycott of Samsung products.