Qu Jing, Baidu’s public relations head, has left the company following a series of social media videos where she demanded long hours and dedication from staff. The videos were intended to promote Baidu but instead sparked controversy over workplace practices in China’s tech sector.

In the videos, Qu urged her team to prioritize the company and disregard the impact on their personal lives. She stated, “I’m not your mum,” emphasizing that she only cared about results. These comments reignited concerns about the “996” culture prevalent in Chinese tech firms, where employees work from 9 am to 9 pm, six days a week.

Qu’s departure comes after she apologized for the videos causing misunderstandings about Baidu’s values. The incident has prompted a reevaluation of the employer-employee relationship in China, with many questioning the lack of rewards for dedicating extensive time and effort to work.

Qu, who joined Baidu from Huawei, was reportedly close to Melissa Ma, the wife of Baidu’s co-founder Robin Li, who is involved in recruitment and HR at the company. Li reassured employees that the incident did not reflect the true values of Baidu, emphasizing the talent within the company.

Despite the controversy, Baidu remains focused on its transformation into a leader in generative artificial intelligence, similar to OpenAI. The company’s chatbot, Ernie, competes with other large language models developed by startups in China.

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