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Murder of Lucky Air flight attendant raises ride-sharing safety questions

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The alleged murder of a Lucky Air flight attendant by a Didi driver focused nationwide attention this weekend on lax supervision at China's leading ride-sharing platform.

The victim, whose full name was not released, was killed with an unspecified weapon on her way home from Zhengzhou airport on May 5, Zhengzhou police said. Lucky Air is a low cost carrier based in Kunming, Yunnan Province.

The Didi inter-city service driver later killed himself by "jumping in a river," said police from the capital city of Central China's Henan Province.

DNA tests confirmed that a body found in an unnamed river near the west third ring road of Zhengzhou was the driver, police said. They only gave his surname of "Liu."

Didi has suspended all inter-city services nationwide for a week since Saturday to rectify its business, according to a statement issued by Didi on Friday.

The company could not be reached for further comment as of press time.

Didi has responsibilities for the killing as it was not careful enough about certification and safety checks, Xie Zhiyong, a law professor at China University of Political Science and Law in Beijing, told the Global Times on Sunday.

The driver had used his father's identification and his father passed a criminal record check, according to the Didi release.

Didi's facial identification system failed to notice it was the wrong driver, triggering heated online debate about loopholes at the ride hailing platform.

Public rage escalated when it was revealed Didi drivers comment on passengers' appearances on the online platform.

Remarks such as "really beautiful," "has a sweet voice" or even "her stockings made me excited" were revealed as commonplace on Sunday.

"Why would Didi allow drivers to rate appearances?" posted xuhua. "That has nothing to do with driving or riding. Isn't this telling drivers to focus on girls' looks and stimulating their lust?"

It would indeed be a serious oversight if these comments encouraged crime, said Xie.

Didi's management of driver behavior was seriously flawed, he said.

The incident reminded the public that passengers should be vigilant and protect themselves, Zhi Zhenfeng, a law expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing told the Global Times on Sunday.

"There is no such a thing as absolute safety," said Zhi. "The same thing could happen years ago with taxis."

Car-hailing brings convenience, Zhi said, and should not be banned "for a small number of cases."

To avoid further incidents, supervision should be strengthened and customers' safety assured through better technology like facial recognition and alarm systems, Zhi argued.

As profit-making entities, companies should also fulfill their social responsibilities and serve customers, he said.


Newspaper headline: Did Didi killer drive through loopholes?


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