United Airlines and China’s Century of Humiliation

David Dao was dragged off a United Airlines plane this week and the video of the brutal incident has gone viral. In China, it is estimated that the video has been watched more than 2 billion times. In this Brain Boost, Eazl business instructor Davis Jones talks about why the explosive Chinese reaction could be rooted in recent history–China’s “Century of Humiliation” and it’s rise to economic power.

“It’s Because I’m Chinese”
David Dao said that he was selected for “involuntary removal” by United Airlines because he is Asian-American. Some in China agree, and the Global Times, a state-owned newspaper ran a piece that gives credibility to Mr. Dao’s claim.

Roots of Humiliation
A phrase that’s known inside China is “The Century of Humiliation.” The beginning of the Century of Humiliation is usually dated around 1850 when free-trade agreements with Britain led to widespread opium addiction and the political unraveling of Qing dynasty. Later, events like the Japanese invasion in the 1930s and the eventual massacre and rape of Nan Jing where an estimated 300,000 citizens were killed and around 20,000 women were raped led Chinese society to bundle these years together as a time when China was fated to suffer terrible humiliations.

New Chinese Consumers
Today, media outlets, political leaders, and Chinese consumers are quick to report any incidents they view as discrimination against China or Chinese customers. As businesspeople and citizens outside China have more interactions with Chinese citizens, it is important to be aware that Chinese society increasingly demands recognition and respect. As their economic power increases, all brands and business owners will benefit by understanding more about Chinese history, the Century of Humiliation, and what that means for the psychology of Chinese citizens

Further Reading:
Chinese Consumers Boycott United
The Global Times says racism might have been a motive (Chinese)

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Ludell Jones

Ludell Jones

Co-Owner & Marketing Director at Eazl
5 years of small business and entrepreneurship experience. 9 years of marketing experience. Loves community development through ethical business practices and well being/positive psychology research. Located in Chicago.
Ludell Jones



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