Baidu CEO Robin Li Yanhong encountered a rather wet surprise when he was presenting an AI-powered parking service on stage at an artificial intelligence conference in Beijing Wednesday morning.
A member of the audience at the AI Developers’ Conference went up on stage, grabbed Li’s hand and poured a whole bottle of water over his head.
The 50-year-old CEO was visibly baffled by the whole situation but managed to remain calm. As his heckler turned around and walked away, Li was heard saying in English, “What’s your problem?”.
As security guards swiftly detained the man and escorted him out of the venue, Li said to loud applause, “As we can all see, there will always be unexpected moments as we advance in artificial intelligence.”
Li then continued the rest of his presentation, a little wet and cold perhaps, but without any further interruption.
It is unclear why the participant chose to attack Robin Li, but it did not take long for the offender’s account to surface on Weibo.
Netizens discovered his whole journey to the conference in a series of posts written over the past two days, as well as the infamous bottle of water just moments before the attack.
Later in the day, Baidu wrote on its official Weibo account:
At today’s AI Developers’ Conference, some people poured cold water. We want to say that there will be all kinds of unimaginable things on the way forward for AI, but our determination to move forward will not change.
Meanwhile, Li’s response, probably the only English words uttered at the all-Chinese conference, has since become the stuff of memes on Weibo.
Enterprising Taobao sellers have also started to roll out merch to commemorate the special occasion.
Once China’s richest man, Li is currently only eighth on Forbes’ China Rich List, with an estimated worth of $6.8 billion.