China's Meituan vows improvements after delivery man kills supermarket worker

BEIJING/SHANGHAI, Dec 23 (Reuters) - China’s Meituan Dianping said on Monday it will make improvements to its platform after one of its delivery men stabbed a supermarket staffer to death on the weekend, prompting debate on social media over the pressures faced by such workers.

The case was one of the top trending topics on China’s Twitter-like Weibo on Monday and is the food delivery giant’s first big public incident since its initial public offering last September in Hong Kong.

China has in recent years experienced a delivery boom powered by millions of couriers who are employed by companies such as Meituan Dianping and Alibaba’s to deliver millions of packages and meal orders around the country.

While many customers laud such services for their speed and convenience, there has been a growing debate about the treatment of these deliverymen, who work under tight time pressures and lack medical insurance when traffic accidents happen.

Local police in Chinese city of Wuhan published details of the case on Sunday which involved a 32-year-old delivery man, surnamed Chen, who stabbed a supermarket employee.

Meituan said a quarrel broke out between Chen and the supermarket employee when he had gone to the store to pick up goods for delivery. The stabbed employee later died, local police said.

“After collaborating with the police investigating into our system, there was no complaining calls or bad reviews on the vendor or the delivery man,” Meituan said in a statement on Monday.

“We will shoulder the responsibility, search for the problems and spare no efforts to make improvements to the platform,” it added.

Comments on Weibo were mixed, with some users speculating what pressures might have driven the deliveryman to commit such a crime while others said there was no justification for such actions.

“Delivery men’s job is very toilsome, but it shouldn’t be the reason to kidnap me morally,” one of the most liked Weibo comment about the case read.

“Your work is paid and my money is earned through hard work... You’re the only people who need understanding and sympathy?”

Meituan controlled almost two-thirds of China’s food delivery market as of September, according to research firm Trustdata. (Reporting by Yingzhi Yang in Beijing and Brenda Goh in Shanghai; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)