By NICHOLAS KAMM/APA data engineer Zhang Xiaoyu at a Beijing data center was fired on Feb. 11 for making the controversial tweet that said China’s government is “not a real data scientist” and that its data centers are “just pieces of paper.”
China’s State Administration of Science and Technology said Zhang was fired and cited him for “misusing the internet,” the official Xinhua News Agency reported, adding that he was given three days to correct the error or face a fine of up to 100,000 yuan ($15,000).
Zhang had previously posted an online video saying that China’s data centers were not really data scientists but “just the pieces of papers” and “a bunch of people who think that they are experts in data science” that “they don’t know how to use.”
The government’s announcement of Zhang’s firing came after a Twitter account with the name @Chinadatacoder was used by the account to attack and ridicule Zhang.
“The Chinese government is not a real ‘data scientist,’ but the only ‘data engineer’ there is you and your stupid tweets,” the account said in one of several online posts.
The account is run by a person identified only as Zhang Xiaohua.
His Twitter profile picture includes a black-and-white picture of a smiling Zhang.
The “data engineer” account has been used to attack Zhang on several occasions, and on Friday night, Zhang said in a tweet that he had been fired.
A video posted to his verified account on Feb 18 shows him saying that the government had no idea what it was doing.
“They’re all just pieces of documents,” he said.
“I made this tweet because they didn’t have a clue.
It’s a very stupid thing to say.”
Zhang has been on an indefinite leave of absence from the Beijing Institute of Technology, according to his university.
He was hired as a data engineer in December 2017 and was hired to work at a government data center where the Beijing bureau of the State Administration for Science and Tech oversees data processing and storage.
Zhang said he was asked to join the data center because of the need to perform data processing at a higher level, but said he didn’t feel welcome.
Zhou Yongfu, a spokesman for the Beijing Bureau of the state-run agency, said the data centre’s chief engineer was fired after Zhang’s tweet and that he would be transferred to another agency, according in Xinhua.
Zhongyun Chen, a Beijing resident who helped set up the account, said Zhang’s comments were “inappropriate” and insulting, and added that he planned to file a lawsuit against the government and the data processing company.
The bureau’s chief, Wang Xiaolong, has said Zhang apologized for his tweets.