This article originally appeared in Inkstone , a daily digest of six China-focused stories. China’s dominant ride-hailing app, Didi Chuxing , has come under attack for closing its carpooling service to female passengers after 8pm. Over the past year, the company has been criticised for failing to protect its female customers. It suspended its UberPool-like service, Hitch, in August 2018 after the deaths of two women, which plunged the company into crisis. On Wednesday, Didi said it would relaunch Hitch this month – with improved safety features – on a trial basis in seven cities. Men will be able to use the service from 5am to 11pm, while women can use it from 5am to 8pm. Safety debate over killing of woman out on a keep-fit walk The announcement prompted outrage on social media, with many women complaining the tech company was restricting women’s freedoms. “Women getting hurt only leads to women losing their freedom,” said one of the most liked comments on Weibo. “It shows we are living in a patriarchal society.” “I see. The problem is women are going out, not that men and companies have evil motives,” said another. Gender equality advocates have called for a boycott of Didi to protest against what they call a curfew-like policy. Didi Chuxing is the world’s biggest ride-hailing platform by number of trips. It competes with Uber in countries like Brazil, Mexico and Australia. Previous adverts for Hitch had messages saying the service was a social platform for drivers, who are usually male, to befriend passengers. It also had a review system that allowed drivers to comment on the attractiveness of passengers, but that function was scrapped in May 2018. Student wanted for killing mum caught after three years on run Responding to the latest criticisms, Didi’s chief executive Jean Liu posted a picture indicating gender equality on Weibo, adding the company would learn from public feedback. “As a senior white-collar woman myself, I also feel the current Hitch service is not that friendly to women,” she said. “But in terms of safety, we are still testing very carefully in this trial run.” China has seen rising awareness of gender equality among its young, urban population in recent years but many internet users have defended Didi, saying the company is trying its best to protect women. During the trial, which has no set end date, Hitch users will go through stricter identity checks, and female passengers will receive additional safety alerts if the vehicle goes off route. A spokesperson said on Thursday that the company aimed to extend a full service to all Hitch riders and drivers as it continued to improve its product and safety functions.