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Another Didi Murder Shocks China: 20-Year-Old Woman Raped and Killed by Driver on Her Way to a Birthday Party

Xiao Zhao is the second woman in China to have been killed by her Didi driver this year, raising concerns among Chinese regarding the safety of the car-hailing app.

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The 20-year-old Xiao Zhao, who went missing after she arranged a ride through Didi, China’s popular Uber-like car-hailing app, has been found raped and murdered. Police have since arrested the suspect, the 27-year-old driver.

A 20-year-old woman from Wenzhou, Zhejiang, went missing on August 24 after taking a Didi taxi from Yueqing (乐清) to Yongjia (永嘉) county at one o’clock in the afternoon to attend a birthday party.

Her parents contacted the police when they could not reach their daughter Xiao Zhao after 14:00, which is when she had sent a message to a friend that she was in trouble.

“Help me,” Xiao Zhao cried for help through message before her phone lost contact.

Although her friend (@Super_4ong) immediately tried to contact Didi after Xiao Zhao had cried out for help, she was allegedly told to wait and no immediate action was taken.

Hours later, in the early morning on Saturday, August 25, police arrested the suspect responsible for the woman’s disappearance, the 27-year-old driver from Sichuan.

Yueqing authorities reported that the body of Xiao Zhao was discovered in a mountainous area nearby, after the driver told police he had killed her and had thrown her body off a cliff. Local police report on their official Weibo account that the driver had also admitted to raping the woman.

It now appears that the driver had been reported by another female passenger earlier this week for indecent behavior. She came forward through WeChat today, claiming the same driver had harassed her around the same place where the murder took place. She was able to get away, and says she later contacted Didi to have his license removed but that Didi had not taken action yet.

Didi Chuxing (滴滴顺风车) is China’s biggest ride-sharing company. Like Uber, it allows customers to arrange a taxi via the app or Wechat programme. Didi has around 450 million users in more than 400 cities across China.

The case is seemingly similar to another shocking Didi murder that occurred earlier this year. In May of this year, the murder of a 21-year-old flight attendant raised concerns among Chinese regarding the safety of car-hailing app Didi.

The 21-year-old Lucky Air flight attendant Li Mingzhu (李明珠) was killed in the early morning of May 6th after she had arranged a ride through Didi, and was on her way home from Zhengzhou Airport in Henan province. A friend of Li had received messages from her while she was on her way home, saying that her driver was “acting strange” and was telling her that he was “tempted to kiss her.”

Unable to contact their daughter later that day, Li’s family reported her missing on the afternoon of May 7. Her body was discovered by local police the following day. Police confirmed that the woman was killed by the driver with a weapon. The body of the driver was later retrieved from a river nearby.

At the time, Didi Chuxing issued an apology for Li’s death, and said they had “incumbent responsibility.” They also promised to improve their safety measures for passengers, but apparently have not succeeded in doing so; before yesterday’s brutal killing, at least ten other Didi incidents also occurred since May, including the rape of a young female passenger on May 15 in Nantong (Jiangsu), the rape of an intoxicated woman in Foshan (Guangdong) who took a Didi taxi after going for a night out on May 13, and the sexual assault of another woman in Huai’an (Jiangsu).

Today, the company again issued a statement on Chinese social media, in which they said they were “filled with grief” over Friday’s violent crime, and that they are deeply sorry: “We fell short of your expectations,” they wrote. The statement received over 200,000 comments today.

The Didi murder is a major topic of discussion on Chinese social media today, with the hashtag “Wenzhou woman murdered when taking Didi” (#温州女孩乘滴滴遇害#) having been viewed more than 16 million times on Weibo at time of writing. Another similar hashtag (#女孩乘滴滴顺风车遇害#) was viewed more than 430 million times. Five of the top 10 ‘hot search’ list topics relate to the murder.

Five out of ten trending topics on Weibo relate to the Didi incident.

One commenter (@Babylily杨杨莉莉) wrote: “As someone of the same age as she was, and me using Didi all the time, I’m just happy nothing has happened to me before. But I hope Didi can undertake action so that all women can safely use their services.”

“I’m too afraid to ride with Didi now,” others said. Amid safety concerns, some netizens now say they want Didi to incorporate an alarm button into its app, so that users can send for help immediately the moment they are being harrassed by their driver.

Others encourage women to quickly change settings in their app to allow the option to automatically share one’s ride with friends, so they can exactly follow the location of the car.

There are also many people who simply do not want to use Didi’s services anymore; they are posting screenshots of them deleting the Didi app from their phones.

UPDATE: More details emerge.

By Manya Koetse, and Miranda Barnes

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us.

©2018 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

Stories that are authored by the What's on Weibo Team are the stories that multiple authors contributed to. Please check the names at the end of the articles to see who the authors are.

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China Brands, Marketing & Consumers

A Brew of Controversy: Lu Xun and LELECHA’s ‘Smoky’ Oolong Tea

Chinese tea brand LELECHA faced backlash for using the iconic literary figure Lu Xun to promote their “Smoky Oolong” milk tea, sparking controversy over the exploitation of his legacy.

Manya Koetse

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It seemed like such a good idea. For this year’s World Book Day, Chinese tea brand LELECHA (乐乐茶) put a spotlight on Lu Xun (鲁迅, 1881-1936), one of the most celebrated Chinese authors the 20th century and turned him into the the ‘brand ambassador’ of their special new “Smoky Oolong” (烟腔乌龙) milk tea.

LELECHA is a Chinese chain specializing in new-style tea beverages, including bubble tea and fruit tea. It debuted in Shanghai in 2016, and since then, it has expanded rapidly, opening dozens of new stores not only in Shanghai but also in other major cities across China.

Starting on April 23, not only did the LELECHA ‘Smoky Oolong” paper cups feature Lu Xun’s portrait, but also other promotional materials by LELECHA, such as menus and paper bags, accompanied by the slogan: “Old Smoky Oolong, New Youth” (“老烟腔,新青年”). The marketing campaign was a joint collaboration between LELECHA and publishing house Yilin Press.

Lu Xun featured on LELECHA products, image via Netease.

The slogan “Old Smoky Oolong, New Youth” is a play on the Chinese magazine ‘New Youth’ or ‘La Jeunesse’ (新青年), the influential literary magazine in which Lu’s famous short story, “Diary of a Madman,” was published in 1918.

The design of the tea featuring Lu Xun’s image, its colors, and painting style also pay homage to the era in which Lu Xun rose to prominence.

Lu Xun (pen name of Zhou Shuren) was a leading figure within China’s May Fourth Movement. The May Fourth Movement (1915-24) is also referred to as the Chinese Enlightenment or the Chinese Renaissance. It was the cultural revolution brought about by the political demonstrations on the fourth of May 1919 when citizens and students in Beijing paraded the streets to protest decisions made at the post-World War I Versailles Conference and called for the destruction of traditional culture[1].

In this historical context, Lu Xun emerged as a significant cultural figure, renowned for his critical and enlightened perspectives on Chinese society.

To this day, Lu Xun remains a highly respected figure. In the post-Mao era, some critics felt that Lu Xun was actually revered a bit too much, and called for efforts to ‘demystify’ him. In 1979, for example, writer Mao Dun called for a halt to the movement to turn Lu Xun into “a god-like figure”[2].

Perhaps LELECHA’s marketing team figured they could not go wrong by creating a milk tea product around China’s beloved Lu Xun. But for various reasons, the marketing campaign backfired, landing LELECHA in hot water. The topic went trending on Chinese social media, where many criticized the tea company.

 
Commodification of ‘Marxist’ Lu Xun
 

The first issue with LELECHA’s Lu Xun campaign is a legal one. It seems the tea chain used Lu Xun’s portrait without permission. Zhou Lingfei, Lu Xun’s great-grandson and president of the Lu Xun Cultural Foundation, quickly demanded an end to the unauthorized use of Lu Xun’s image on tea cups and other merchandise. He even hired a law firm to take legal action against the campaign.

Others noted that the image of Lu Xun that was used by LELECHA resembled a famous painting of Lu Xun by Yang Zhiguang (杨之光), potentially also infringing on Yang’s copyright.

But there are more reasons why people online are upset about the Lu Xun x LELECHA marketing campaign. One is how the use of the word “smoky” is seen as disrespectful towards Lu Xun. Lu Xun was known for his heavy smoking, which ultimately contributed to his early death.

It’s also ironic that Lu Xun, widely seen as a Marxist, is being used as a ‘brand ambassador’ for a commercial tea brand. This exploits Lu Xun’s image for profit, turning his legacy into a commodity with the ‘smoky oolong’ tea and related merchandise.

“Such blatant commercialization of Lu Xun, is there no bottom limit anymore?”, one Weibo user wrote. Another person commented: “If Lu Xun were still alive and knew he had become a tool for capitalists to make money, he’d probably scold you in an article. ”

On April 29, LELECHA finally issued an apology to Lu Xun’s relatives and the Lu Xun Cultural Foundation for neglecting the legal aspects of their marketing campaign. They claimed it was meant to promote reading among China’s youth. All Lu Xun materials have now been removed from LELECHA’s stores.

Statement by LELECHA.

On Chinese social media, where the hot tea became a hot potato, opinions on the issue are divided. While many netizens think it is unacceptable to infringe on Lu Xun’s portrait rights like that, there are others who appreciate the merchandise.

The LELECHA controversy is similar to another issue that went trending in late 2023, when the well-known Chinese tea chain HeyTea (喜茶) collaborated with the Jingdezhen Ceramics Museum to release a special ‘Buddha’s Happiness’ (佛喜) latte tea series adorned with Buddha images on the cups, along with other merchandise such as stickers and magnets. The series featured three customized “Buddha’s Happiness” cups modeled on the “Speechless Bodhisattva” (无语菩萨), which soon became popular among netizens.

The HeyTea Buddha latte series, including merchandise, was pulled from shelves just three days after its launch.

However, the ‘Buddha’s Happiness’ success came to an abrupt halt when the Ethnic and Religious Affairs Bureau of Shenzhen intervened, citing regulations that prohibit commercial promotion of religion. HeyTea wasted no time challenging the objections made by the Bureau and promptly removed the tea series and all related merchandise from its stores, just three days after its initial launch.

Following the Happy Buddha and Lu Xun milk tea controversies, Chinese tea brands are bound to be more careful in the future when it comes to their collaborative marketing campaigns and whether or not they’re crossing any boundaries.

Some people couldn’t care less if they don’t launch another campaign at all. One Weibo user wrote: “Every day there’s a new collaboration here, another one there, but I’d just prefer a simple cup of tea.”

By Manya Koetse

[1]Schoppa, Keith. 2000. The Columbia Guide to Modern Chinese History. New York: Columbia UP, 159.

[2]Zhong, Xueping. 2010. “Who Is Afraid Of Lu Xun? The Politics Of ‘Debates About Lu Xun’ (鲁迅论争lu Xun Lun Zheng) And The Question Of His Legacy In Post-Revolution China.” In Culture and Social Transformations in Reform Era China, 257–284, 262.

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China Brands, Marketing & Consumers

Zara Dress Goes Viral in China for Resemblance to Haidilao Apron

Who’s gonna buy this Zara dress in China? “I’m afraid that someone will say I stole the apron from Haidilao.”

Manya Koetse

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A short dress sold by Zara has gone viral in China for looking like the aprons used by the popular Chinese hotpot chain Haidilao.

“I really thought it was a Zara x Haidialo collab,” some customers commented. Others also agree that the first thing they thought about when seeing the Zara dress was the Haidilao apron.

The “original” vs the Zara dress.

The dress has become a popular topic on Xiaohongshu and other social media, where some images show the dress with the Haidilao logo photoshopped on it to emphasize the similarity.

One post on Xiaohongshu discussing the dress, with the caption “Curious about the inspiration behind Zara’s design,” garnered over 28,000 replies.

Haidilao, with its numerous restaurants across China, is renowned for its hospitality and exceptional customer service. Anyone who has ever dined at their restaurants is familiar with the Haidilao apron provided to diners for protecting their clothes from food or oil stains while enjoying hotpot.

These aprons are meant for use during the meal and should be returned to the staff afterward, rather than taken home.

The Haidilao apron.

However, many people who have dined at Haidilao may have encountered the following scenario: after indulging in drinks and hotpot, they realize they are still wearing a Haidilao apron upon leaving the restaurant. Consequently, many hotpot enthusiasts may have an ‘accidental’ Haidilao apron tucked away at home somewhere.

This only adds to the humor of the latest Zara dress looking like the apron. The similarity between the Zara dress and the Haidilao apron is actually so striking, that some people are afraid to be accused of being a thief if they would wear it.

One Weibo commenter wrote: “The most confusing item of this season from Zara has come out. It’s like a Zara x Haidilao collaboration apron… This… I can’t wear it: I’m afraid that someone will say I stole the apron from Haidilao.”

Funnily enough, the Haidilao apron similarity seems to have set off a trend of girls trying on the Zara dress and posting photos of themselves wearing it.

It’s doubtful that they’re actually purchasing the dress. Although some commenters say the dress is not bad, most people associate it too closely with the Haidilao brand: it just makes them hungry for hotpot.

By Manya Koetse

Independently reporting China trends for over a decade. Like what we do? Support us and get the story behind the hashtag by subscribing:

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©2024 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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