China’s tech leader slams United Airlines for dragging passenger off plane

Richard Liu, founder of China’s second largest e-commerce website, minced no words denouncing United Airlines after security officers hit and dragged a passenger off its plane because the “randomly selected” passenger refused to get off.

“The news of United employees violently removing a well behaved passenger reminds me of my three trips with the airlines, which is sheer nightmare,” wrote Richard Liu on his Weibo on Tuesday. “It’s fair to say, with all due responsibilities, the airlines’ service is definitely THE worst globally!”

Screenshot from Richard Liu’s Weibo account
Screenshot from Richard Liu’s Weibo account

The backlash from Liu is his reaction to a viral video of security staff dragging an Asian looking man a plane amid screaming and chaos. The man seemed badly hurt with blood on his face. United Airlines claimed the flight from Chicago to Louisville was overbooked, and asked some selected passengers to leave the plane after no one volunteered to change their flight. The man – a doctor – refused to leave the plane as he needed to report for work at the hospital the next morning.

The passenger was later verified to be Dr David Dao, a 69-year-old Vietnamese-American working in Kentucky. Reddit users left comments that the incident was related to racism. One user commented that if it was an elderly white man, he would not be dragged off.

Liu was not the only one who voiced his opinions. The video and the story have sparked heated discussion on China’s social media. On China’s Twitter microblogging equivalent Weibo, the topic of “United kicking off passenger” was read 600 million times and saw 259,000 comments under this hashtag.

Weibo discussion on the incident. Screenshot from Weibo.

As its largest trading partner, the United States has granted Chinese citizens 10-year business visas. The China National Tourism Office said that there were an estimated 5 million trips made by Chinese and American travelers between China and the United States in 2016.

Chinese netizens strongly responded to this incident as they felt that they might be the next victim if they travel to the United States.

On Wednesday, Weibo users left comments online saying that they prefer China airlines’ solution to overbooked flights. “In China, airlines will upgrade you to the first class if there are empty seats on board. If the plane is already full, latecomers will not be able to board. It rarely happens that you are to get off after boarding.”

Some expressed concern that the man was chosen because he is of Asian descent. A Weibo user wrote, “They even dared beat and drag a passenger. These guys are really racists.”

(Top photo from Baidu Images)

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