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China goes without Didi Chuxing for the first time

Imagine the US without Uber. It's a bit like that.

CHINA-DIDI-INTERNET-TRANSPORT

Didi is trying to make its platform safer for users.

STR/AFP/Getty Images

Can you imagine how life would be without Uber?

That's what people in China are going through now as Didi Chuxing, China's ride-hailing king, has put its late-night hailing services (from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m.) on a one-week hiatus, Chinese media reported Sunday.

The decision was made as part of a series of new safety measures including safety education, an emergency call button and audio recordings of entire trips after the company came under fire following two murders committed over three months this year. The hiatus began last weekend.

A 20-year-old woman using Didi's Hitch service was raped and stabbed in the neck by her driver late last month. The case occurred just three months after a 21-year-old flight attendant was killed in May while using the same service. Didi's chairman and president, Cheng Wei and Jean Liu, apologised in a public statement and the company suspended its Hitch service.

In addition to the inconvenience of being unable to get a Didi, people are taking to Weibo to complain about drivers operating illegally. A local reporter recounted trying to get home late at night but being unable to call a cab from Didi's app. Taxis wouldn't stop for them and illegal drivers touted fares that were double to triple the normal fare on a regular day. Speaking to drivers, the reporter added that the recordings didn't seem to be a problem for them.

China's first night without Didi's ride hailing services is a trending topic on Weibo, with one post accumulating over 20 thousand comments. One user argued that "bastards won't disappear because of Didi's suspension" with another pointed out that it's scary on the "empty streets" after midnight. Others argued that if people are worried, they should go home earlier.

One user observed there are fewer people working overtime now because they won't be able to get a cab home even if the company is willing to pay for it.

"WeChat too should introduce a night time snooze feature from 11.30 p.m. to 6.30 a.m. so Chinese citizens can enjoy a good night's sleep," he added.

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