The boss of Chinese Internet giant Baidu has been attacked on stage whilst delivering a keynote speech about artificial intelligence (AI).

CEO Robin Li, co-founder of the search engine giant, was in the middle of his speech when a man walked onto the stage grabbed his arm and emptied a bottle of water over his head.

The attack on the Chinese tech leader comes after Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos also had a security scare in June, when an animal rights protestor came within feet of the world’s richest man, in a protest about a chicken farm that supplies to Amazon.

CEO attacked

After the man walked onto the stage and poured water over Li at the Baidu Create 2019 conference in Beijing on Wednesday, Baidu alerted police about the incident, Beijing police were quoted as saying by Reuters.

Authorities investigated, identified an individual and placed him in administrative detention, which can last five days, for “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”, police reportedly said.

The BBC has a video of the attack available here, and although water was used this time, the incident could have been much more serious if another type of liquid was used.

After Li was covered in water, he can be heard to ask “What’s your problem?” as he wiped liquid from his face.

The attacker gave no indication of why he poured the water on Li, who managed to press on his speech.

“As you can see, all kinds of unexpected things may happen on our way forward in AI development,” the BBC quoted Li as saying a moment later. His audience applauded.

Intolerant world

With tech now a mainstream fact of everyday life, there is concern that some of its most public figureheads, including CEOs of large tech firms, could become targets in an increasingly intolerant world.

In April for example it was revealed that Facebook had in the past year doubled the amount of money it is spending on the personal security of founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

That decision to beef up the security for Zuckerberg came after Facebook suffered a torrid year of scandals and controversy.

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Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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