Baidu CEO Robin Li doused in water during speech

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A man poured a bottle of water over Baidu’s chief executive Robin Li at the opening of the company’s annual developers’ conference on Wednesday.

During his speech at the Baidu Create AI Developer Conference in Beijing, an attendee rushed up to the stage and poured a bottle of water over the CEO’s head.

After a few moments of shocked silence, Li asked the interloper in English, “What’s your problem?”

The man, whose motive was unclear, was quickly tackled by security.

Li then continued his speech about smart transportation, noting that the road to artificial intelligence (AI) will contain unexpected happenings. “But it will not impact Baidu’s determination,” he added.

A Baidu spokesman told TechNode Wednesday that the man was taken away by the police, and that his identity was unknown.

Chinese netizens have tracked down the account allegedly used by the man on microblogging platform Weibo. A Weibo account using the handle @Zhinanshangshu posted a picture of a bottle of water at the front of the stage where Li was giving his keynote speech at 9:40 a.m. Wednesday with the message “I’m about to go [to the stage].” All posts by this account had been deleted by mid-afternoon Wednesday, TechNode observed.

The account holder’s identity could not be independently verified by TechNode.

Baidu, China’s biggest search engine site, was widely criticized last month for promoting its own results and low-quality articles on Baijiahao, the company’s news aggregation platform which publishes content from other sites, over news from other channels.

The company has struggled to regain user trust after a series of scandals over the past few years. In 2016, a 21-year-old college student died after being treated for his cancer using questionable methods at a hospital which he chose for its top ranking in Baidu’s search results.

This story has been updated to include the video, comment from Baidu, and Weibo account information.