While Uber continues to toot its many horns about its fast growth and success in China, new allegations against a driver hired by the ride-sharing company are doing nothing to better its international image. On Wednesday, a number of Chinese media outlets reported that a female passenger was robbed and sexually assaulted by her driver in the early hours of the morning.
Sadly, similar allegations were made earlier this year in India, and in the United States in Alabama and Washington, D.C. This serious safety concern, along with China’s penchant for investing in domestic enterprises and betting against foreign competitors, may threaten Uber’s ability to remain in the country.
According to reports, the Chinese passenger, a 42-year-old woman in Chengdu, hailed an Uber at around 2 am on the morning of August 5. Along the route, the driver headed for a tunnel, whereupon he allegedly brandished a knife and forced her to turn over all her cash, amounting to 5,000 yuan (around $780). He then drove to a remote area of the city and sexually assaulted her, taking photos of the incident. As per reports, he threatened injury if she went to the police with her story before dropping her back off in Chengdu’s city center.
The whole ordeal, newspapers say, lasted around three hours. The police have since arrested a man in connection with the alleged crimes, and have charged him with robbery and rape.
This isn’t the only problem Uber is facing in China (though it may be the most serious). Communications giant WeChat has blocked the ride-sharing application in the country, which Uber believes may be hurting their growth. This comes as little surprise, however, as China has a number of carpooling services of their own that they appear to be much more willing to support.
So despite Uber’s claims that China could soon overtake the U.S. as its biggest market, the app may have to tread carefully or risk some serious fallout.