On 1 July, the day China celebrated the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party, an employee at beverage brand Vitasoy committed suicide after attacking a Hong Kong police officer with a knife.
Vitasoy International Group Co., Ltd., a subsidiary of the Hong Kong based Vitasoy Group, released an internal memo saying that the assailant “unfortunately passed away”. This did not sit well with netizens in mainland China who got hold of the memo. Many are of the opinion that the Vitasoy Group should not have shown support for the assailant due to him having willingly attacked a man of the law.
On 3 July, the Vitasoy Group issued a statement stating that the internal memo circulating on the Internet had not been officially approved and released by the Vitasoy Group and was written privately by an employee. It was spread internally without authorisation and did not follow the internal approval process of Vitasoy Group. On the afternoon of 6 July, Luo Youli, the Executive Chairman of Vitasoy International Group Co., Ltd., said that the employee who wrote the internal memo has been fired.
Although Vitasoy Group apologised for this incident on Weibo, Chinese netizens have struggled to accept it. In a Weibo survey titled “will you still drink Vitasoy in the future”, more than 400,000 people voted, and nearly 90% of netizens said they would not drink it again. Merchants across the country have removed Vitasoy products. The hashtag “#Vitasoy fired the employee who wrote the internal memo” #维他奶辞退撰写通告员工# hit 310 million views on Weibo.