Huawei, a Fortune 500 company that makes a range of electronic goods, reportedly fired several Indian employees from its offices in Tehran in Iran, before reinstating them when the Indian Embassy there intervened.
The development from earlier this week takes place amid the ongoing standoff between India and China over the Doklam region, and the dispute is believed to have played a role in the sacking of several employees.
There has been no official word from Huawei on even the firing and backtracking, let alone the reason behind the initial move.
As India celebrated Independence Day on August 15, an Indian employee of Huawei Iran tweeted out to the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) and Sushma Swaraj: "Huawei Iran has fired all Indian nationals today."
The individual, identified as Rohit, also claimed that this was not a "business-related decision," implying that the Chinese firm had fired them because of the ongoing Doklam standoff.
Another individual named Vikrant Singh also tagged the PMO and Swaraj, and said that "all Indian expats working in Huawei Telecomm Iran told verbally to leave Huawei Iran in 1 day [sic]."
They and a few others appealed to the India's External Affairs Ministry to step in and ensure that the matter is addressed.
Meanwhile, certain Pakistani news outlets reported that the layoffs had taken place because the Indians had been accused of stealing data and technology from Huawei. They, however, did not name the company.
Embassy stepped in?
It seems that a day after the matter came to light, the Indian Embassy in Iran stepped in to address the concerns of the Huawei employees who had been told to leave without being given a reason.
And the move worked. The very people who had earlier complained of being fired took to Twitter to thank the Embassy because they had been asked to rejoin their duties.
There has been no official word — either from Huawei or from India or even from China — over the issue.
A similar development is believed to have played out in Doha, where Huawei Qatar fired Indian employees. However, there is no confirmation on that from even the Indian employees there.
Employees turned into pawns
Concerns have been raised that efforts were made to use the Indian employees of Huawei as pawns in the Doklam dispute, with the idea that the possibility of more such layoffs prompting India to back off from its stand.
However, India has taken a strong stand against China in this very regard, over allegations that Chinese smartphone-makers are stealing data of their Indian users. However, smartphone-manufacturers from other countries are also under the scanner.
Fears had already been expressed that hostility generated by the standoff would spill on to trade ties between India and China. This incident shows that the standoff has already begun to affect such relations.