A Chinese firm has been accused of ill-treating its female employees after a bizarre video emerged on the internet. The clip shows women employees of the firm being forced to slap each other while kneeling down on the stage.

At its annual day gala on 17 December, beauty and skin care company Nanchang Jinhuayuan Meiye, under-performing employees were reportedly asked by their bosses to punish each other on their faces for their poor performance.

The footage shows around ten pairs of female workers from the company's sales department, dressed in blue T-shirts and black trousers, kneeling down on the stage and slapping their opponent's face repeatedly. The shocking incident took place before hundreds of their colleagues who turned into mute spectators.

The slapping fest continued until their bosses asked them to stop and the action was defended as a way to save them from getting fired. To add to the women's misery, a sign on the stage read: "Ruthless Team", a mentality that the company apparently wanted to encourage in its employees.

The clip of the company's controversial 14th-anniversary celebration has gone viral on the Chinese social media website Weibo. After getting severely criticised for its rude way to humiliate its employees, the cosmetic company defended itself by claiming that the exercise was meant to increase "team spirit".

"It was a show of team spirit. It happened during the opening of our year-end gala, and only once. Our team is strong," a spokesperson of the Nanchang, Jiangxi Province-based company told reporters and defended the action claiming other companies across China are also following the same in order to build team spirit.

Bizarre punishments across China keep making headlines across the world. In another such weird case, a Chinese student slipped into coma after being forced to stand outside in the cold for being caught talking after bedtime.