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Asia Minute: Reaction to United Passenger Incident: Chinese Lives Matter

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

The story about a man being pulled off a United Airlines flight continues to get wide coverage. But in parts of Asia, there’s a definite twist, involving race and ethnicity. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.


That smart phone video of a man being forced off a United Airlines flight on Sunday has bounced around the world.

Reactions of disbelief have been widespread, but in parts of Asia there’s a different kind of resonance.

The man taken off the plane has been identified as a Vietnamese-American—some early reports incorrectly called him Chinese.

That was enough to send social media accounts in parts of Asia into a blistering overdrive.

In China alone, the online video was viewed more than 300 million times by Tuesday. China Central Television featured pictures of the man. So did the People’s Daily—the official newspaper of the Chinese Communist party.

More than a hundred thousand internet users have signed an online petition demanding the U.S. government investigate the incident as racial discrimination.

The hashtag “Chinese Lives Matter.”

Calls for a boycott of United Airlines are also spreading across China.

The South China Morning Post was one of several publications quoting an online post from Chinese-American comedian Joe Wong, who wrote “Many Chinese people feel they are racially discriminated against but don’t speak out for fear of losing face, causing Western mainstream media and the public to not take discrimination against Asians seriously.”

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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