Chinese net users have expressed anger and alarm following the suspected murder of a 24-year-old woman on Monday by a driver affiliated with ride-hailing app Didi Chuxing.
“The whole registration and evaluation process is a concern for users,” said one net user on microblogging platform Weibo, referring to driver selection. “I think we are sacrificing our lives when we use Didi’s service.”
The murder happened in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, South China. According to a statement by local police, the suspect, a 24-year-old man surnamed Pan, picked up the victim, a teacher, after 9 p.m. on Monday and drove her to a remote area, where allegedly he threatened the victim with a knife, stole her belongings, and killed her.
The murder comes as concerns over the safety of women in China are receiving greater attention. Just last week a female-only bus in Zhengzhou, Henan province made headlines, and last month a video of a woman being attacked in a Beijing hotel was widely discussed on social media.
Didi posted a statement late Tuesday evening on its official Weibo account about the incident. According to Didi, the suspect was driving with a license plate different from the one he used to register with the company.
In March the Shenzhen government called on five ride-hailing apps to screen their drivers more thoroughly, following the discovery that thousands of drivers in the city had serious crimes or incidences of drug abuse on their records. Following that, Didi said it had taken action to expel some drivers.
“Passengers’ safety is our first concern,” Didi said in its statement, adding that it had been working on improving passenger safety by using Internet, big data and other technologies. Didi did not elaborate.
The company also said it will be working together with law enforcement agencies to set up surveillance and investigation systems.
In response to the statement, another Weibo user said that on more than one occasion, the license plate of the car sent to pick him up did not match the number shown in Didi’s system. “It’s not a single case, and Didi should carefully investigate this issue if they want to survive in the market,” he said.
Net users shared many of their own unpleasant experiences involving Didi drivers.
One said she once left her cellphone behind in a Didi car. When she called the police, she discovered that the driver’s name and plate number failed to match the registered information on Didi’s platform.
Didi has previously been involved in several cases of violence against women.
On April 11 a Didi driver who had robbed and raped a female customer in Wuhan, Hubei province, was sentenced to eight years in prison.
A week before that, another Didi driver was given jail time in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou for raping a passenger.
Still, not everyone seems to blame Didi for the teacher’s murder.
“I think it’s safer than the unlicensed taxis out there,” said one net user. “At least Didi can provide actual driver information, making it easier to find the murderer when these cases occur.”
(Header image: User interface for Didi’s smartphone app, Shanghai, July 27, 2015. Gao Jianping/Sixth Tone)