Beijing (PTI): Angry Chinese netizens on Tuesday called for the boycott of the United Airlines for “racial discrimination” after a 69-year-old Chinese-American passenger was forcibly removed by its staff from an overbooked flight in Chicago.
Video of police officers dragging the Chinese-American doctor from an overbooked United Airlines flight sparked an uproar on social media in China.
As the flight waited to depart from Chicago’s O’Hare Airport to Louisville, Kentucky, officers grabbed the doctor from a window seat, pulling him across the armrest and dragging him down the aisle by his arms. The passenger was later shown with blood on his face.
The video, posted on social media on Sunday, has been viewed by more than 120 million users in China.
The video sparked outrage across Chinese social media as the airlines’ decision to evict the passenger from the domestic flight was condemned as “racial discrimination”, Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported on Tuesday.
In the incident, the passenger protested that he was on his way to treat patients in Louisville, Kentucky, and that the company’s decision to kick him off the plane along with three others was due to his race.
On Wechat, the popular Chinese social media platform, articles about the incident circulated widely with headlines such as “because he chose United Airlines, he was beaten and dragged off the plane, with blood over his face.”
Among the most popular Weibo posts was from Chinese-American comedian Joe Wong, who spoke out in support of the assaulted passenger.
United’s booting of a passenger was even dumber than it looks. Staff could have flown cheaper on other flights. “Many Chinese people feel they are racially discriminated against but don’t speak out for fear of losing face, causing Western mainstream media and the public to not take discrimination against Asians seriously,” he said.
Another Weibo user, Qian Qian, commented: “If you beat your customers, we will thrash your reputation and your market share around the world, until we hear a sincere apology from your bleeding mouth.”
Calls to boycott the United Airline have been rising among Chinese online users.
The airline last year celebrated its 30th anniversary of flights to China, but the incident is likely to upset its ambition to attract more Chinese passengers, the report said.
“At United, we want to be the airline that our Chinese customers choose first,” the airline’s director of sales for Eastern China, Eliza Lin, said in a statement in March last year.
United Airlines chief executive Oscar Munoz said on Twitter that the incident was “upsetting”.
One of the security officers involved in the incident has been placed on administrative leave for not following protocol and an investigation is pending, the Chicago Department of Aviation said in a statement.
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