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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

The Price is Not Right: Corn Controversy Takes over Chinese Social Media

It’s corn! The “6 yuan corn” debate just keeps going.

Manya Koetse

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Recently there have been fierce discussions on Chinese social media about the price of corn after e-commerce platform Oriental Selection (东方甄选) started selling ears of corn for 6 yuan ($0.80) per piece.

The controversy caught the public’s attention when the famous Kuaishou livestreamer Simba (辛巴, real name Xin Youzhi), who has labeled himself as a ‘farmer’s son,’ criticized Oriental Selection for their corn prices.

Founded in 2021, Oriental Selection is an agricultural products e-commerce platform under New Oriental Online. In its company mission statement, Oriental Selection says its intention is to “help farmers” by providing the channels to sell their high-quality agricultural goods to online consumers.

Simba suggested that Oriental Selection was being deceitful by promising to help farmers while selling their corn for a relatively high price. According to Simba, they were just scamming ordinary people by selling an ear of corn that is worth 0.70 yuan ($0.10) for 6 yuan ($0.80), and also not really helping the farmers while taking 40% of their profits.

‘Sales king’ Xin Youzhi, aka Simba, was the one who started the current corn controversy.

During one of the following livestreams, Oriental Selection’s host Dong Yuhui (董宇辉) – who also happens to be a farmer’s son – responded to the remarks and said there was a valid reason for their corn to be priced “on the high side.” Simba was talking about corn in general, including the kind being fed to animals, while this is high-quality corn that is already worth 2 yuan ($0.30) the moment it is harvested.

Despite the explanation, the issue only triggered more discussions on the right price for corn and about the fuzzy structure of the agricultural e-commerce livestreaming business.

Is it really too expensive to sell corn for 6 yuan via livestreaming?

The corn supplier, the Chinese ‘Northeast Peasant Madame’ brand (东北农嫂), is actually selling their own product for 3.6 yuan ($0.50) – is that an honest price? What amount of that price actually goes to the farmers themselves?

‘Northeast Peasant Madame’ brand (东北农嫂).

One person responding to this issue via her Tiktok channel is the young farmer Liu Meina (刘美娜), who explained that Simba’s suggested “0.70 yuan per corn” was simply unrealistic, saying since it does not take the entire production process into account, including maintenance, packaging, transportation, and delivery.

Another factor mentioned by netizens is the entertainment value added to e-commerce by livestreaming channels. Earlier this year, Oriental Selection’s host Dong Yuhui and his colleagues became an online hit for adding an educational component to their livestreaming sessions.

These hosts were actually previously teachers at New Oriental. Facing a crackdown on China’s after-school tutoring, the company ventured into different business industries and let these former teachers go online to sell anything from peaches to shrimp via livestreaming, teaching some English while doing so (read more here). So this additional value of livestream hosts entertaining and educating their viewers should also be taken into account when debating the price of corn. Some call it “Dong Yuhui Premium” (“董宇辉溢价”).

Dong Yuhui (董宇辉) is one of the livestreamers that have turned New Oriental’s e-commerce into a viral hit.

In light of all the online discussions and controversy, netizens discovered that Oriental Selection is currently no longer selling corn (#东方甄选回应下架玉米#), which also became a trending topic on Weibo on September 29.

But the corn controversy does not end here. On September 28, Chinese netizens discovered that corn by the ‘Northeast Peasant Madame’ brand (东北农嫂) was being sold for no less than 8.5 yuan ($1.2) at the Pangdonglai supermarket chain (胖东来), going well beyond the price of Oriental Selection.

Trying to avoid a marketing crisis, the Pangdonglai chain quickly recalled its corn, stating there had been an issue with the supply price that led to its final store price becoming too high. That topic received over 160 million views on Weibo on Friday (#胖东来召回8.5元玉米#).

Behind all these online discussions are consumer frustrations about an untransparent market where the field of agricultural products has become more crowded and with more people taking a share, including retailers, e-commerce platforms, and livestreaming apps. Moreover, they often say they are “helping farmers” while they are actually just making money themselves.

One Weibo user commented: “Currently, ‘helping farmers’ is completely different from the original intention of ‘helping farmers.’ Right now, it’s not about helping farmers anymore, but about helping the companies who have made agricultural products their business.”

“I bought a corn at a street shop today for 4 yuan ($0.55),” one Weibo blogger wrote: “It was big, sweet, and juicy, the quality was good and it was tasty – and people are still making money off of it. So yes, 6 yuan for a corn is certainly too expensive.”

By Manya Koetse 

 

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How Made-in-China ‘Magical’ Winter Essentials Are Keeping Europeans Warm Amid Energy Crisis

Chinese manufacturers of heating equipment are the “invisible champions” of Europe’s energy crisis.

Manya Koetse

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Chinese companies are profiting from Europe’s energy crisis. Made-in-China electric blankets, electric kettles, sleeping bags, and hot water bottles are flying off the shelves and Chinese factories are working around the clock to meet the demand of European consumers.

“Chinese Electric Blankets Are the Magic Weapon Keeping Europeans Warm This Winter” (#中国电热毯成欧洲人今冬御寒神器#) and “Explosive Sales of Chinese Electric Blankets to Europeans” (#欧洲人买爆中国电热毯#) are among the popular hashtags discussed on Chinese social media this week in light of Europe’s ongoing energy crisis.

Chinese companies are seeing booming sales of winter essentials recently. Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Europe is dealing with an energy crisis. Households and businesses across Europe are feeling the pinch: the shortage of natural gas has led to sky-high prices for heating and electricity. The explosions and subsequent gas leaks that occurred on the Nord Stream natural gas pipelines on September 26 have only made prospects bleaker.

Looking for creative ways to stay warm and reduce energy bills, made-in-China products are in high demand among European consumers, and Chinese factories are scaling up their production to meet the growing demand.

According to Toutiao News, some manufacturers in Dongguan are seeing the highest sales numbers in half a decade; sales volumes have tripled compared to the same period last year. This requires the factory workers to work in shifts of three so the production can continue around the clock.

Electric blankets are especially popular as they are relatively affordable and more cost-effective as they require less electricity to run compared to electric heaters. Chinese electric blankets are generally cheaper than local options.

Chinese media describe Chinese electric blankets as the ‘magical weapons to defend against the cold’ (“御寒神器”).

The word shénqì (神器), meaning ‘magical tool’ or ‘magical weapon’, is often used to refer to products or objects that provide a simple or smart solution to a pressing problem, such as these paint buckets that became a viral hit during Spring festival travel season; this ‘magical’ device to prevent grannies from dancing underneath your window; or this gadget to take revenge on a noisy neighbor.

 

“Now there’s even a joke saying the Yiwu electric blanket sellers are the ones who sabotaged the Nord Stream pipelines.”

 

Besides electric blankets, other made-in-China ‘magical weapons’ that have become popular amongst European consumers include electric kettles, wearable sleeping bags, thermal underwear, and hot water bottles.

Electronic knee warmer.

As this topic of Chinese winter products “taking over Europe” recently became a hot topic on Chinese social media, some people commented on how the prices for these products were much higher in Europe than in China.

In Europe, a simple rubber hot water bottle is usually sold for around ten euros ($10) while the exact same products are sold for around five to ten yuan ($0.70-$1.5) in China.

In this way, the European energy crisis turns out to be a lucrative one for Chinese businesses. Some bigger companies also manufacturing electric blankets saw their stock prices rise.

One joke circulating on Chinese social media suggests that Chinese electric blanket sellers from manufacturing cities such as Yiwu are the ones who sabotaged the North Stream pipes.

“I never expected China to get part of the profits,” one popular comment said, with the following comment saying: “Thanks to the silly Europeans for making a contribution to our economy!”

“I heard they’re even looking [to buy] our Chinese birthday candles, they’ve gone mad,” one Weibo user wrote, while others jokingly wrote: “We’re the real winners.”

In light of the run on electric blankets, Chinese netizens also came up with some alternative suggestions to stay warm.

“It would be better if they’d wear long underwear pants,” one commenter suggests, while others say that people could just “make love to generate electricity.”

“Use a hot-water bottle and drink lots of hot water,” some write, while others recommend European consumers to buy more hand warmers.

Hand warmer sold on Taobao for 128 yuan ($18).

“I suggest them to buy our Xinjiang cotton quilts, they are sustainable and you can save on energy,” one Weibo user wrote in reference to last year’s Xinjiang cotton boycott.

One Weibo user drew their own conclusion in light of the current developments: “I think we could safely say that the world can do without Russians, but we’ll always need China.”

By Manya Koetse with contributions by Miranda Barnes

 

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