Robin Li, the CEO of China's prime search engine Baidu, had water poured on him by a man who came innocuously on stage during the former's speech on Wednesday.
The incident occurred when Li was speaking at a company-sponsored event on Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Beijing. Public confrontation is a rare case scenario in China's big cities where a strong security detail is installed and celebrities like Li generally travel with a pack of security, making the entire bizarre episode even more intriguing. Here's the video:
The recent years have seen Baidu facing severe criticism from the populace because of a medical advertising scandal and the discontent towards the changes in the search listings. Apparently, Baidu has resorted to favouring its own content. In his speech about AI, Li was telling the crowd about Baidu's plans for autonomous car development as he opened the two-day tech conference when the man came on the stage and poured a bottle of water on his head.
Li was caught off-guard and he was stunned and remained unmoved for a second as the water poured down. As the man left, Li said in English:
"What's your problem?"
The incident initially seemed a part of Li's presentation as it lasted for a few seconds. However, security intervened to cart off the man. Li, in his drenched white shirt and a wet face remained calm and resumed his presentation which welcomed applause.
"Everyone can see that the path of advancing AI will still encounter all types of things we don't expect," said Li as he carried on with his presentation.
Prior to the incident, only a handful of security personnel were present in the conference room. Even so, security guards soon filled in to stand at the end of each row of the audience.
Baidu issued a statement the incident that echoed Li's on-stage reaction, but it did not give any details about the individual or what happened to him afterwards. Baidu has had a rough year posting its first quarterly loss since going public in 2005 during the first quarter, with the head of its core search business also resigning.