In the United States, becoming a hero by averting a disaster can lead to a role as a public speaker and author if you play your cards right as Capt. Chesley Sullenberger did after successfully landing a US Airways plane on the Hudson River in 2009. But in China, the rewards are a little more immediate. When a group of ethnic-minority Uighurs, who have historically clashed with China's majority Hans, reportedly tried hijacking a plane in the country's far west region of Xinjiang on June 29, the flight crew and passengers overpowered them, The Associated Press reported via Chinese media. To thank them for the reported terrorist-subduers for their efforts, the Hainan airline and government made their appreciation clear, per AP:
The official Xinhua News Agency reported late Monday that Hainan Airlines, the parent company of the flight operator, awarded the chief flight attendant and two security guards 1 million yuan ($159,000) in cash, an apartment worth 3 million yuan ($477,000) and a car. The other six members each received 500,000 yuan ($79,500) in cash, a 2 million yuan ($318,000) apartment and a car, Xinhua reported.
All 22 passengers on the flight will receive free lifetime airfare from the airline, Xinhua said.
In addition, the Civil Aviation Administration gave the crew 1 million yuan, or $159,000, and the Xinjiang regional government tossed in another half-million yuan, or $79,500, to be divided among them, as well as 100,000 yuan, or $15,900 each for the 10 crew members and the passengers. Not to be outdone, the Hainan provincial government, where the airline is headquartered, gave the crew 500,000 yuan to split and 100,000 yuan each to the two security guards.
Of course, as is often the case in China, the story isn't as cut and dry as the state media would like it to be. The German-based World Uyghur Congress said shortly after the brawl, after which two of the alleged hijackers died, that the hijacking attempt wasn't any such thing but rather a fight over a seat assignment. If that's true, then all that money starts looking less like a reward and more like hush money.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.