From China to Vietnam, internet users and media outlets are furious over the treatment of the bloodied 69-year-old United Airline passenger.
The outrage caused by video of the violent removal of an elderly doctor from a United Airlines Flight 3411 continued to grow Wednesday as internet users and media outlets across Asia vented their fury with boycott calls and caustic remarks on racism and human rights in the United States.
“Look! This is hegemony,” said one user of Chinese social media platform Weibo. “American people always talk about human rights. They’re having a laugh. This is the so-called America-style supremacy!”
The video showed 69-year-old David Dao being violently yanked from his chair by Chicago O’Hare International Airport aviation police and thrown face-first into an armrest, bloodying his face. As the elderly man was dragged away, horrified passengers could be heard screaming, “Oh my God! Look at what you did to him.”
Original reports of the harsh removal of Dao — a U.S. physician born in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam — originally misidentified the Louisville, Kentucky-based doctor as Chinese-American, causing the incident to become a top trending topic across China’s internet, with users accusing the airline of anti-Chinese racism.
“The company may think that Asian Americans are always obedient but this incident has crossed the line too much,” wrote Weibo user “chouqianguai,” according to Global Times.
“(The U.S.) shouts about equal rights but has done such dirty things,” wrote Weibo user Yuan Tianweilaoshi.
Chinese state media likewise noted that the incident highlighted the hypocrisy of the United States over human rights, with broadcaster CCTV calling the incident “Barbaric Behavior” and Global Times saying that Dao’s treatment mirrored the violence meted out to Asians and other oppressed communities by police across the U.S.
“The old man’s screaming and blood on his face fully proves the brutality of security staff. And the airline’s response afterwards was arrogant and cold-blooded,” said the People’s Daily. “Who dares to fly with such an airline, which is supposed to uphold the values of taking care of people, but trampled over customers’ rights and interests?”
United CEO Oscar Munoz’s original response to the incident thanked staff for “always going above and beyond” while adding that the bloodied doctor had been “disruptive and belligerent.” However, when United Airlines’ share prices began to plummet, the airliner went into damage control mode and labeled the “re-accommodation” of Dao as “truly horrific.”
By Wednesday afternoon, a post about Dao’s treatment received 600 million views on Weibo.
However, when reports of the Dao’s origins in Vietnam hit his country of birth, shockwaves spread across the Southeast Asian country.
Vietnamese media detailed how Dao, a refugee during the U.S. war on Vietnam, was also a songwriter and crooner of soulful ballads — including one about his memories of rain falling in his hometown of Ho Chi Minh City, then known as Saigon.
“Watching this makes my blood boil, I’ll never fly United Airlines,” commented Anh Trang Khuya in a Facebook post cited by Reuters.
Nguyen Khac Huy wrote: “Boycott United!!! This is excessive! Let’s be loving and united, Vietnamese people!”
The anger was exacerbated when British tabloid The Daily Mail attempted to smear the doctor’s name in an article published with the ridiculously long-winded headline, “Doctor dragged off United flight was felon who traded prescription drugs for secret gay sex with patient half his age and took them himself — and he needed anger management, was ‘not forthright’ and had control issues, psychiatrist found.”
Many have noted that the United passenger — whose full name is David Thanh Duc Dao — may not be the same person as David Anh Duy Dao, the man with the criminal history.
Nevertheless, others have highlighted the unimportance of Dao’s “troubled history,” comparing the emerging narrative over his alleged past to previous attempts to smear victimized people of color who faced police brutality or racist violence such as Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner and Tamir Rice.