Racism Allegations in United Airlines Scandal Fire Up Chinese Social Media

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All

Chinese Internet users are calling for a boycott of United Airlines, after videos of an Asian passenger being forcibly removed from a U.S. aircraft went viral on social media platforms across China.

Posts from official media accounts and from private citizens were quickly seen trending on platforms including Sina Weibo (akin to a Chinese version of Twitter) and on messaging platform WeChat, which has over 800 million users worldwide.

An April 9 flight from Chicago O’Hare to Louisville was overbooked and after a call for volunteers to leave the plane, the airline and local police forcibly removed passengers. Videos show an Asian man, reportedly a medical doctor, removed from his seat and dragged, bloodied and apparently unconscious along the central aisle.

Many pointed not only to United’s ill treatment of the passenger, but also charged the airline with racist treatment of Asians. Others said that the police and airline brutality exposed
American lies about freedom and equality. (The video surfaced the same day as Amnesty International criticized China for its high number of state executions.)

A topic page on Sina Weibo had attracted more than 77 million views and 5.2 million discussion threads by early Tuesday afternoon. Official media, including People’s Daily, and the Sina video channel have also been carrying the news. Shenzhen Airlines set up an online poll of Weibo users’ seeking their views on the scandal.

Many Weibo users said the move was insulting and disrespectful, arguing that United Airlines deliberately targeted an Asian man because Asians are stereotyped as timid and unlikely to stand up for their rights.

Gao Dinyuan, a member of the Binzhou city Internet culture association, wrote in a Weibo post: “Where’s the freedom and equality that [America] promised? Where’s promise of the acceptance of people in different colors? Are these just political lies from American politicians?”

One of the WeChat posts by MetroChinese drew more than 100,000 views. Many users responded by calling for boycott of United Airlines. “What if all Asians boycott United Airlines? Will that airline collapse?,” one of the users wrote.

“United began nonstop service to China in 1986 and today has twice as many routes between China and the mainland U.S. as any other U.S. airline, with 96 weekly departures,” the airline claimed in May last year, before adding a new service connecting the high-tech hubs of San Francisco and Hangzhou.


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  1. Airlines says:

    Videos showing a man being violently removed from a United Airlines flight have provoked an outcry on social media.

  2. Frank says:

    Louisville ky airport is a small shithole they don’t know what they’re doing.
    They’re always a mess.
    Don’t EVER fly there, go thru cincinati it’s much bigger.

    • Terry says:

      Flying used to be such a luxury, a beautiful meal, large seats, luggage included;
      before this screening lineup for an hour and two hr preflight check in requirement, now it’s more like riding a crowded subway at rush hr. Stinky.
      Byo food. Creepy. Carry on a load of crap otherwise it’s lost or stolen, broken into. Eeeeks.
      Oh well we got our cell phones now.

  3. Tony Chang says:

    Anyone knows if the other 2 young couples chosen to leave the plane were Asians as well? Many Thanks

  4. VernonDozier says:

    Well, it was a tough video to watch. But if you don’t respect or follow instructions from authority figures, you’ll have to live with the consequences.

    When staff asks nicely to move, and if you are insubmorniate, of course the police will be called in. When police arrive, decisions have already been made.

  5. Ed says:

    No overbooking. It’s charging double.
    There are no refunds for a no show.
    It’s 200dollars to change a ticket after 24 hrs of purchasing a ticket and changes can only be made within 2 days in advance of the flight. The f ng crooks.
    It’s not the customers responsibility for the airline employees to be at their jobs on time. Fire the four late employees and the idiots that harassed the
    customers for no reason. As a matter of abuse ALL the victims on this flight should be reimbursed for such outrageous abuse.

  6. michael says:

    HOw come no one is looking at this doctors drug dealing past. he is a known felon. if he was black even his speeding ticket would be brought up

  7. Privacy Advocate says:

    It is overt racism. The odds of them not targeting a black muslim are exaxtly 100%

  8. Inspector clouseau says:

    I don’t care if that guy was from Mars those greedy lowlife losers from United had ZERO right to do that. If those greedy scumbag United officials didn’t over book their flights to make sure they get ever penny they can,that shit would never happen. I hope they get a lawsuit so big they they choke. GREEDY AIRLINES BEAN COUNTERS. ALL ABOUT GREED KIDS.

  9. ranapatel9 says:

    Why can’t people understand that it was the Aiport POLICE and not United which used the excessive force to remove the passenger? And also it was not “excessive force” as the police asked him to get off voluntarily many times. The they did have to drag him off less taser him. I’m sorry, that’s the law, and the law sucks. Doesn’t seem like he’ll win a lawsuit against United as the FAA allows airlines to deboard pasingers from aircraft who already have made it to their seat if a special need arises. In this cas the 4 United employees needed to get in the plane because they had to work on the next morning United flight out of Louisville SDF. If they didn’t get onboard then the flight out of Louisville would have no air hostesses.

    And the police can’t be sued because that is their training on how to forcibly remove someone from an aircraft, even if it lets them all bloody and gory.

    Hey, I don’t make the rules in America.

    • Inspector clouseau says:

      You loser snowflake you have as much common sense as a dog going back to eat its turds. You don’t get it. GREED IS THE UNDERLYING FACTOR. Also you dipshit he can sue their ass off and will…bet on it.

      • ranapatel9 says:

        Hey idiot, I said I don’t make the rules or law in America. The FAA allows for “involuntary deboarding” in such cases. The police are the ones who allegedly used excessive force. Who’s he gonna sue? If it wasn’t legal for the police to come and remove him then they wouldn’t have come in the first place cause they wouldn’t want to deal with the shiznit or fallout. United is most likely gonna give him a settlement with a confidentiality clause, not because they’re guilty, but for his silence and to save on legal fees.

  10. Andy says:

    There’s no reason for overbooking.
    No refunds on tickets cancelled within 24 hrs before the flight. It’s price gouging.
    Charge double for the tickets, if so many more flights are required in a crowded industry it’s because the pricing is too cheap.

  11. Norton says:

    It’s only Racism if all four passengers kicked off the plane we the same race. Seems like the other 3 had no incident leaving the plane. Maybe we should be looking at the behavior
    of this one passenger causing the scene?

    • The Truth says:

      How ignorant can you be? The race of the other removed passengers has no bearing on whether or not the mistreatment of the Asian passenger was racially motivated. While it’s arguable that race was definitely a precipitating factor, there’s no question that many Americans behave prejudicially toward Asians, and Asians are understandably sensitive about it. Hence the social media uproar regardless of the actual nationality of the offended person. And it makes no difference if Asians are equally biased in return or if the Chinese government is a human rights disaster. American corporations and citizens need to take responsibility for their own behavior, regardless of what others do.

      The man asserted that he was a doctor with patient appointments the following morning. He had already boarded the plane and was in his reserved seat. Why should travel issues relating to United’s employees be considered more important than the needs of their passengers? Reports alleging that the incident was due to overbooking are deceptive. There were enough seats to accommodate the paying passengers. United caused the problem by prioritizing their business over the convenience of their customers. It’s the unprofessional business conduct of the airline and the behavioral overkill of the police that caused the scene.

      • Norton says:

        I’m not saying United couldn’t have done a better job, but he was asked to leave and HE put up a fuse. How is it racism when the other passengers asked to leave weren’t Asian also. So if 100 people were asked to leave it’s racism if one person is of a different race? People need to take responsibility for their own action. Quit blaming other people for your own actions. That’s what I’m trying to say.

  12. nohw says:

    Beside this not being racist based on the reason of removal, as horribly handled as it was, one big problem China; the man removed was Vietnamese-American, not Chinese. Guess when you are a Communist country that has a murderous one child only policy, allow citizens to rundown and kill other citizens to avoid paying a high fee if they survive an accident, and an oppressive government that infringes on peoples rights, then you have to do something to try to look better than you are. Hollywood would also do well to stop viewing every event as one that involves racism.

  13. Sct says:

    that UNITED was attempting to substitute 4 of their own employees for the customers seats. An obscene gesture in any business protocol and the 4 united employees could have easily been the people to be booked on a later flight, another airlines, or had other employees sub their jobs theycwould have missed by not being on the flight. Anyone involved in this drama should be fired by united immediately as they obviously are too unskilled to be employed in a people business. 

    • Toni says:

      Overbooking a sold out flight should not be allowed in the airlines industry as most last minute cancellations are not refundable tickets, it’s illegal to charge twice for the same product once the product has been sold. Last minute cancellations are usually filled with a standby at a reduced rate or an employee flying with their employee benefits.

  14. Ahsoka says:

    The incident could have been avoided. And it shows how crazy these airlines are with their policies.

    But I find it interesting that is it not alleged racist when an Asian man beats up a Black woman. The US has to be one of the most racist filled countries on this Earth.

  15. Frank says:

    The problem with gossip articles like these on variety, deadline and
    hollywd rptr, it’s not a legitimate ‘general’ news publication and may often not include facts and criteria that are important to understanding the issue being reported on and thus the article becomes merely gossip and slander and one sided.
    The actual FACTS here, that could have been easily checked if it were not for lazy reporting, the actual FACTS that may change the slant of the story is that UNITED was attempting to substitute 4 of their own employees for the customers seats. An obscene gesture in any business protocol and the 4 united employees could have easily been the people to be booked on a later flight, another airlines, or had other employees sub their jobs theycwould have missed by not being on the flight. Anyone involved in this drama should be fired by united immediately as they obviously are too unskilled to be employed in a people business.

  16. Rudy Mario says:

    All they need to do is kick out United. Instead spread it around to other better US airlines.

    Too bad the really good ones like Southwest and Alaska do not fly international except Mexico and Canada.

  17. RS says:

    Hey China,

    Everyone KNOWS America lies about its about freedom and equality TO SOME EXTENT, but at the end of the day, we’ve still got one HELL of a lot more of it than you do.

    That said, this never should have happened, regardless of the man’s ethnicity. However, in China, this kind of behaviour is commonplace just about everywhere somebody does something somebody else doesn’t agree with, so their finger pointing is hypocritical to say the least.

    • RS says:

      Hopefully ALL airlines learn from this. If YOU overbook, YOU’RE responsible to fly everyone to their destination. If that means seating “extra” passengers in staff quarters, so be it.

  18. Jane says:

    Incident was beyond stupid, and UTD needs to admit that although it may have had the “right” to remove the man it screwed up almost beyond measure. However, think the incredible lack of common sense had little, if anything, to do with race. Stems from UTD’s lack of respect for the vast majority of its customers and a lack of training of its staff. Considering the email the CEO sent to employees, the disrespect and lack of training come from the top down.

    • Michael Anthony says:

      Well said. Considering the amount they were offering passengers to leave the plane. They should have just gone over to American, or, another carrier, and secured 4 seats for their employees earlier in the day. They knew they were overb9oked well before departure.
      Secondly, they never should have filled the plane. No one onboard, until they figure it out.

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