Chinese Social Media Erupts Over United Airlines Dragging Passenger Off Flight

United Airlines
A United Airlines Boeing 787 taxis as a United Airlines Boeing 767 lands at San Francisco International Airport, San Francisco, California, on February 7, 2015. United Airlines' removal of a passenger sparked outrage in Chicago in April, leading to airline industry executives being summoned to appear before a House transportation committee. REUTERS/Louis Nastro/File Photo

A video showing a passenger being dragged off a United Airlines flight at Chicago O’Hare international airport has caused outrage at home and abroad. In China commentators on social media sites, including Weibo, have expressed particular anger according the the Associated Press.

United staff clumsily dragged a man off the plane heading to Louisville, after they said they had had no volunteers to leave the overbooked flight. One couple agreed to leave voluntarily, while the wife of the man dragged off also agreed to leave, according to the Straits Times.

The incident provoked anger in China after state-run news outlets in Beijing reported that the man in the video was of Chinese descent. He has not yet been named, but other passengers said he had complained about being singled out because he was Chinese, The New York Times reported.

The man came back on board after being dragged off the plane with a bloody face, provoking outrage on social media, though United said the injury came from the man hitting himself on a seat armrest on the way out. The video of the man being forcibly removed and seen with a bloody face went viral and appeared on state television channel CCTV. On Chinese social network Weibo the video had 110 million views, and 65,000 comments, according to the Times, and many users accused United of racism.

Internet users condemned the airline, and encouraged boycotting United’s services. United runs regular routes to China, with nonstop flights to Beijing and Shanghai from Chicago.

One Chinese commentator on Weibo said: “Since the incident, the airline is on my no-fly list.”

China Daily, a Chinese newspaper, said many users were unimpressed with the apology issued by Oscar Munoz, the CEO of United Airlines, which didn’t reference the abuse. Munoz defended his staff described the passenger as “belligerent.”

Joe Wong, a Chinese-American comedian urged a boycott. He tweeted about the incident, thanking the passenger for “speaking up” about discrimination, and wrote on Weibo: “Many Chinese who have faced discrimination are unwilling to speak out because of their pride. Because of this attitude, neither mainstream Western media nor the public pays much attention to discrimination against Asians.”