You’re rehired! Chinese firm overturns decision to cancel employment offers to over 200 graduates

More than 200 Chinese graduates have had their job offers by China’s largest medical equipment manufacturer restored, with Shenzhen Mindray Bio-Medical Electronics citing “corporate social responsibility” having initially sparked a public outcry by cancelling the contracts in December.

Mindray offered jobs to 485 students who will graduate in the summer from around 50 top universities across China during campus recruitment activities in September and October, but later withdrew the offers to 254 due to a change in business conditions.

The decision was seen as a typical example of China’s struggling job market, which is battling against the economic slowdown amid the trade war with the United States.

“According to what I know, all students who were released by Mindray received the call from the company,” said Joan Liu, one of the students who had been informed of their termination via phone calls on December 28 and 29, around a week after a “welcoming party” for new hires.

“In the phone calls, the [human resources] staff said similar things to us, saying ‘we apologies sincerely to you for the confusion and pressure you have had in the past few days.’

“Our management would like to take more corporate social responsibility and resume the contract we signed with you if you still want it.”

Company spokeswomen Vicky Wang confirmed the news, stating the students would be given time to make a decision.

Mindray, whose product lines include patient monitoring devices, had said the demands of maintaining a sound operation in 2019 were “heavier than in than past years” and it had to scale back its student recruitment plans “for the sake of continuous and steady business development”.

Understandably, some students questioned whether the new offers received on Tuesday night would be honoured.

“You can trust us because the public will keep an eye on us and we are aware of their concern. The related employment authorities have also spoken to the company as well,” one student was told by a member of Mindray’s human resources staff.

‘Darkening Skies’ for China’s economy, but what can we expect in 2019?

According to the contracts with Mindray, the students will start work at branch offices across China, including Beijing, Xi’an, Shenzhen, Wuhan and Guangzhou, after they graduate in June.

The Chinese government has made “stabilising” growth its top priority for 2019, with job creation especially for young graduates seen as a necessity to ensure social stability.

This year, a record 8.34 million students will graduate from Chinese colleges and universities, according to the Ministry of Education, compared to 5.3 million in 2009.

Mindray, which is listed on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange, reported its revenue reached over 10.27 billion yuan (US$1.5 billion) in the first three quarters of 2018, up around 23 per cent compared to the previous year.

But in October, Mindray joined several mainland-listed companies to publicly announce the risks it was facing due to China’s trade war with the United States.

It said this was due to items being exported to the US, including monitors, Doppler ultrasound machines, anaesthetic apparatus and in vitro diagnostic products, being included on the list of US$50 billion worth of Chinese products hit with increased tariffs since July.

Mindray’s sales to the US in 2017 reached over 754 million yuan (US$109.98 million) of customs dutiable value, with the increased tariffs taking the amount of customs duties to more than 188 million yuan (US$27.42 million) or 7.28 per cent of the company’s net profits.

It also cited potential cost increases associated with purchasing imported raw materials from the US should the trade war continue.