Uber's China counterpart, Didi Chuxing, is facing its own social media backlash

  • Over the weekend, Chinese social media erupted with posts echoing the "Delete Uber" movement.
  • A woman was allegedly raped and killed Friday by a driver for Didi Chuxing's carpooling service in eastern China.
  • Actor Wang Chuanjun, who appeared in the popular summer release "Dying to Survive," shared a screenshot Sunday Beijing time of him in the process of deleting Didi's app. The post on China's Weibo had more than 1.2 million likes as of midday Wednesday and over 80,500 shares.
Ride sharing app of Didi Chuxing.
Zhang Peng | LightRocket | Getty Images
Ride sharing app of Didi Chuxing.

Over the weekend, Chinese social media erupted with posts echoing the "Delete Uber" movement.

This time, the heat was on China's dominant ride hailing company, Didi Chuxing. A woman was allegedly raped and killed Friday by a driver for Didi's carpooling service in eastern China. The company's apparent failure to respond promptly to the woman's requests for help and a passenger complaint a day earlier about the same driver have become the focal points for complaints.

Police have arrested the driver, Didi fired two executives and it suspended the carpooling service.

But the incident is just the latest indication that the company has issues to resolve: Less than four months ago, a driver for the same Didi service allegedly killed a female flight attendant.

And just as Uber scandals led to social media discussions about deleting the American company's app, so too has the recent Didi news drummed up popular discontent.

Actor Wang Chuanjun, who appeared in the popular summer release "Dying to Survive," shared a screenshot Sunday Beijing time of him in the process of deleting Didi's app. The post on China's Twitter-like Weibo platform had more than 1.2 million likes as of midday Wednesday and over 80,500 shares.

In Chinese, he wrote: To delete won't change anything, right? Must I always keep this?

Chinese authorities are also putting greater scrutiny on Didi and said the company bears "unshirkable responsibility" for the passenger's death, according to Reuters.

So far it's unclear whether Didi's internal issues could result in the same sort of fallout that Uber experienced.

Last year was tumultuous for the U.S. tech firm, with more than one "Delete Uber" movement, claims of internal sexual harassment and resignations, including that of Travis Kalanick from the CEO role.

Didi bought Uber's China operations in 2016, and faces little competition in the country. Its app has nearly 15 percent penetration among Chinese mobile phone users, while other services have about 1.5 percent or less, according to Aug. 20 data from app developer services firm Aurora Mobile.

Didi's app can also call taxis, making it nearly impossible to hail one by hand on the streets of Beijing. The primary challenge comes from the government's attempt to limit the number of Didi cars on the road, sometimes resulting in passenger wait times of more than half an hour.

In contrast to Didi's dominance, Uber faces competition from Lyft and a number of other ride-hailing apps in the U.S. But Uber remains one of the most valuable internet companies in the world at a $72 billion valuation.

Didi is just behind that, at $56 billion. Both figures are as of May 29, according to a widely followed ranking of the world's top 20 internet companies from Kleiner Perkins' Mary Meeker. The two firms are expected to hold initial public offerings in the next year or so.

Several days after the alleged murder, criticism of Didi had not abated despite multiple apologetic statements. Founder Cheng Wei and President Jean Liu also released a public letter Tuesday evening Beijing time saying their pride had caused irreparable harm.

Shortly before noon on Wednesday, the post of the public letter on Weibo had about 70,000 comments.

Many of the posts expressed support for deleting or uninstalling Didi, while others criticized the company for a perceived lack of sincerity and singular focus on making money.

Liu is one of Forbes' top 100 Chinese businesswomen and Wei ranks ranks 333 on Forbes' China Rich List with a reported net worth of $1.2 billion. Uber's Kalanick ranks 422 on Forbes' list of world's billionaires with a reported net worth of $4.2 billion.

In addition to calls for deleting Didi, Chinese social media users passed around another phrase that translates roughly to "call a Didi, lose your life."