Chinese social media reaction to United Airlines’ treatment of passenger David Dao was angry—even being called out on the country’s version of Twitter, Weibo, as the “United Airlines Beating Event.”
It trended in the top news on Weibo Wednesday, with most users dismissing nationality as irrelevant after news reports made it clear that Dao is Vietnamese, not Chinese, as originally reported—a factor that had fueled some of the early online backlash.
“Why do you care what kind of person he is? Even if it’s a dog, you can’t do this to it if he bought a ticket,” wrote one user.
Most users criticized United (UAL) for its perceived discrimination of all Asians, and Chinese celebrities joined in, too.
According to local media, JD.com CEO Richard Liu said yesterday that it reminded him of the “three times” he’d experienced a “nightmare” with UA.
“I can say this [responsibly]: UA’s service is absolutely the world’s worst,” he wrote in Chinese.
On “United Airlines from the ground to the air, the arrogance of the service is heinous,” Gao Xiaosong, a famous musician, reportedly wrote on Weibo. He said he’d experienced it “twice” a few years ago, and since then, had not been a customer.
Chinese social media is just as diverse a place as America’s. But its one general impulse is to react swiftly—and furiously—to news of mistreatment of Chinese abroad or any perceived double standards against Chinese consumers. When Ikea took two weeks to expand a U.S. recall of a dresser to China last year, for example, users were in an uproar, questioning whether the company truly valued its Chinese customers.
The United scandal has created a similar uproar in China, even after it became clear Dao was Vietnamese. The United Airlines passenger removal was the most discussed topic on Weibo yesterday, with almost 500 million “views.” Today, it added another 250 million views.