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China tech

Ride-hailer Didi to hire 50,000 China vets a year with eye on Xi

Market leader curries favor ahead of IPO amid tech clampdown

People's Liberation Army soldiers march outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.   © Reuters

BEIJING -- Didi Chuxing, China's top ride-hailing company, will hire 50,000 retired soldiers each year over the next three years, expanding efforts to tackle the problem of veteran unemployment while highlighting its contributions to the Communist Party.

The company announced the plan Thursday, a day after launching a new employment center for veterans. "There are more than 1 million veterans on the Didi app, and they make up 12% of all drivers," said CEO Cheng Wei. "We want to provide vets with employment-related services."

Some observers suggest that Didi, which has risen to its current heights through mergers and acquisitions, looks to bolster its relationship with President Xi Jinping's government as it prepares for an initial public offering in Hong Kong. Beijing has tightened its grip on tech companies in recent months, torpedoing a planned mega-IPO by Ant Group late last year.

In March 2020, Didi announced an agreement with the Ministry of Veterans Affairs to provide 15,000 work opportunities for former soldiers, but ended up bringing on more than 50,000. More than half of all veterans working as Didi drivers are members of the Communist Party, and over 95% have high ratings from customers, according to the company.

Didi, established in 2012, now boasts more than 550 million users.

China has roughly 60 million former members of the People's Liberation Army, and their ranks grow by nearly 800,000 a year. Veterans have held protests to demand better benefits. Beijing established the Veterans Affairs Ministry in 2018 and stepped up efforts to help retired soldiers find new employment.

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