China’s Didi Chuxing App Suspends Hitch Ride-Sharing Service After Passenger Slain

August 26, 2018 Updated: August 26, 2018

BEIJING—China’s largest ride-hailing firm, Didi Chuxing, is suspending its Hitch services nationwide, the company said in a statement on Aug. 26, a day after police said a ride-sharing passenger in the eastern Chinese city of Wenzhou was raped and killed by a driver.

Didi Chuxing said that the carpool service would be suspended as of Aug. 27 due to “disappointing mistakes,” while the product’s business model is being re-evaluated.

The suspected murder of a 20-year-old woman, who Wenzhou police identified only with the surname Zhao, is the latest in a series of violent crimes that have fueled safety concerns about the service. In May, another female passenger was found dead after hailing a ride in Zhengzhou City, Henan Province, via Didi Chuxing. The Didi driver was the chief suspect in her death, in an incident that sparked outrage throughout the country.

Zhao got into a Hitch carpool vehicle at 1 p.m. on Aug. 24, and sent a message to a friend at around 2 p.m. seeking help before contact was lost, according to a local police statement.

A 27-year-old driver named Zhong was detained at about 4 a.m. on Aug. 25 and confessed to raping and killing the passenger, police said in the statement; the victim’s body had been recovered and an investigation is continuing, police said.

Didi said on Aug. 26 that the suspect had no prior criminal record, had provided authentic documentation, and passed a facial recognition test before starting work. But the company had said on Aug. 25 that there was a prior complaint made against the driver by a passenger who alleged the driver took them to a remote place and followed the passenger after she got out of the car.

“You’ve had so many incidents,” an unidentified family member of Zhao was quoted as saying in the Qianjiang Evening news, an official Zhejiang province publication. “What are you going to do about your safety and service problems?”

By Christian Shepherd