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Suspect in Chinese Stewardess Didi Chuxing Murder Case “Jumped into River”

The murder on the 21-year-old flight attendant has raised concerns among netizens on the safety of car-hailing app Didi.

Manya Koetse

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The number one trending topic on Chinese social media on Thursday night (Beijing time) is the murder of a Chinese stewardess by a driver of the Didi Chuxing car-hailing app. The hashtag “Stewardess Didi Murder” (#空姐滴滴打车遇害#) received 110 million views at time of writing.

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, China’s popular Uber-like car-hailing app, and was on her way home from Zhengzhou Airport in Henan province.

Unable to contact their daughter, Li’s family reported her missing on the afternoon of May 7. Her body was discovered by local police the following day.

According to Global Times (report since removed), police confirmed that the woman was killed by the driver with a weapon, but was still at large. Didi Chuxing issued an apology for Li’s death, and said they had “incumbent responsibility.”

Chinese news site Sixth Tone reports that 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.”

The car-hailing company also offered a reward of up to 1 million yuan [US$160,000] for people providing tips on the suspect’s whereabouts. The company issued a photo of the suspect, a 27-year-old male named Liu Zhenhua, on social media platform Weibo.

In a Beijing News interview with the victim’s father on May 10, it was disclosed that Li’s body was found half naked, with over 20 stab wounds.

According to new reports on Thursday night, research teams have found that Didi driver Liu abandoned his car shortly after the murder and then jumped into a nearby river. Police is now searching the area.

For many people in China, the Didi car-hailing app is part of their everyday travel life. In 2017, the company completed 7.43 billion rides for approximately 450 million users in more than 400 cities.

Li Mingzhu’s death has raised public concerns over the safety of the company. Although drivers need to have real-name registration, they can also register an account with another person’s car, as long as the car owner agrees.

“Didi, you need to increase the security level over your drivers!”, some commenters say on Weibo, while others say they are now “afraid to hail a Didi car.”

“I hope that tomorrow’s news will tell me the driver has drowned,” one netizen wrote.

Update: Netease reports on May 11 that a body has been recovered from the water. Further investigation will have to confirm if it is indeed the suspect.

By Manya Koetse, with contributions from Chauncey Jung

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

Manya Koetse is the editor-in-chief of www.whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer and consultant (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends in China, with a focus on social media and digital developments, popular culture, and gender issues. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Avatar

    winona

    May 13, 2018 at 9:13 pm

    fk. companies that hire employees who have unsupervised power over customers need to have rigorous mental examinations. this is a sobering wake up call to remind you that you really can’t trust anyone.

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China Local News

Sudden Ground Collapse at Metro Station in Xiamen

A sudden collapse occurred near Xiamen’s Lucuo station, just two weeks after a similar incident took place in Guangzhou.

Manya Koetse

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In the evening of December 12, Xiamen’s Lvcuo (Lǚcuò 吕厝) metro station became a breaking news topic in Chinese media after a ground collapse incident occurred at a nearby intersection, followed by a major flood in the Xiamen subway.

Xiamen, Fujian Province, is one of China’s major coastal cities. According to Xiamen Metro News, the collapse happened at 21:52 local time.

At time of writing, rescue teams are still investigating the scene. It is unclear if people have been trapped or injured due to the collapse.

An apparent dashcam video shared by Sina News and People’s Daily on Weibo shows the moment right before the sudden collapse.

The video captures how the road is relatively busy at the time of collapsing, and at least one car can be seen crashing into the sinkhole.

Other footage shows that the Xiamen metro line is currently flooded (also see video in this tweet).

The scene of the collapse at 0:10 local time.

The metro station where this incident occurred is relatively new. Xiamen’s metro line was first opened in late December 2017.

Just two weeks ago, another major ground collapse accident occurred at the construction site of a metro line in Guangzhou. Three people remain missing after the incident.

On Thursday night local time, the Xiamen metro collapse was the number one trending topic on social media platform Weibo. Many netizens commenting on the incident express worries about the safety of roads and construction sites in China.

Update (Dec 13): According to the latest Chinese media reports, the drivers of two cars who were at the scene at the moment of the ground collapse have both been recused. One female pedestrian who also fell into the sinkhole is receiving medical treatment..

By Manya Koetse
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China Health & Science

No Need for Plague Panic? China’s Trending Plague Outbreak

After the Year of the Pig brought swine flue, some fear the Year of the Rat will bring the ‘rat plague.’

Manya Koetse

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For the past nine days, during which three cases of the plague have been reported in China, the deadly bubonic plague has become a hot topic on Chinese social media.

The topic first made headlines on November 12, when Chinese state media announced that two people, a husband and wife from Inner Mongolia, were transported to Beijing’s Chaoyang Hospital for treatment after being diagnosed with the pneumonic plague.

The couple reportedly got sick after eating raw marmot kidney.

A 55-year old hunter from the same region, the Inner Mongolian Xilingol League, was later also diagnosed with bubonic plague after eating wild rabbit meat.

The bubonic plague, also called the ‘Black Death,’ is an infectious disease that is known to have caused one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, killing millions of people in 14th century Europe.

News of the three cases of bubonic plague reminded many of the 2003 SARS panic; an outbreak of SARS in southern China caused over 8000 cases that year.

The World Health Organisation criticized China at the time for covering up the scale of the problem, with officials conceding in the Spring of 2003 that China’s SARs problem was “nearly 10 times worse than had been admitted.”

Current online reports on the bubonic plague in China stress that there is no reason for panic, with a hospital spokesperson confirming that the situation is “under control.”

42 people who are known to have come into contact with the Chinese patients have all been quarantined and were not found to have any symptoms of catching the disease.

Chinese (state) media channels are spreading social media posts this week that mainly emphasize that the plague “can be prevented, controlled, and managed,” and that it can be effectively treated.

“Don’t panic over plague outbreak,” Sina News headlines, with People’s Daily posting on Weibo that, according to the China Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “there is no need to worry.”

The bubonic plague primarily affects rodents and other animals, with animals – and incidentally humans – usually contracting the infection through insects such as (rat) fleas. This form of plague is highly contagious – can spread through coughing – and could be fatal within days if left untreated (Benedict 1996, 4).

Mammals such as rabbits or marmots, as eaten by the recent Chinese patients, but also rats, squirrels, gerbils, mice, etc., can all harbor the disease.

Although the disease is increasingly rare, and for many is something from the history books, there were still 3248 cases worldwide between 2010 and 2015, leading to 584 deaths, according to the World Health Organization.

Although Chinese media stress that there is no need to panic over the recent outbreak of the bubonic plague, many netizens still fear an epidemic, making comments such as: “The Year of the Pig brought the [African] swine fever, now the plague is starting just before the Year of the Rat!” (The word for ‘plague’ in Chinese is 鼠疫 shǔyì, literally meaning ‘rat plague’ or ‘mouse plague’).

Others are asking questions such as: “Do we risk the plague more if we have mice in the house?” and “How can we prevent getting it?”

Meanwhile, according to Jiemian News reports, the area in Inner Mongolia where the patients originally contracted the illness is currently under strict control by the Ministries of Health and Agriculture; some roads are closed off, and there’s temperature screening for those taking public transport.

The area has seen four cases of plague over the past decades, the most recent one before this month being in 2004.

Last news on the current three patients was from last Saturday, when it was reported that at least one of the patients is now in stable condition.

By Manya Koetse
Follow @whatsonweibo

References

Benedict, Carol Ann. 1996. Bubonic Plague in Nineteenth Plague in Nineteenth Century China. Stanford University Press.

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