Chinese: ; Hong Kong (CNN) Pop sensation Kris Wu, of Chinese and Canadian descent, was formally arrested on Monday in Beijing on charges of rape, according to a statement released by local authorities.
An internet outrage over sexual assault allegations against Wu, 30, has made his case the most prominent #Metoo case in China, leading to his initial detention by police on July 31 in the Chinese capital.
Last month, a woman posting under the verified account “Du Meizhu” on the Chinese social media platform Weibo claimed Wu, whose Chinese name is Wu Yifan, had sexually attacked her when she was inebriated at the pop star’s house, where she said she had gone for a casting interview.
The woman, currently enrolled at Beijing’s Communication University of China, claims she was 17 at the time of the assault. Later, Du said that multiple women, including two children, had reached out to her with identical stories about being tricked into having sex by Wu, one of China’s most prominent performers.
Despite Cnn’s Request for Response, Wu’s Camp Remained Silent
The short statement from the Beijing prosecutor’s office in the Chaoyang district said Wu’s detention on Monday was formally sanctioned on suspicion of rape, but did not elaborate on the specific charges against him.
Wu, before his arrest, had disputed the charges on his personal Weibo account. His employer has threatened legal action against his accuser, calling the claims “malicious rumours.”
Wu, a Canadian citizen who was born in southern China, shot to popularity as a member of the successful Korean-Chinese pop group EXO, and then as a solo artist after the group’s dissolution in 2014. He became one of the most recognised faces in the country after starring in several films and modelling for high-end companies like Burberry.
But as the rape claims surfaced in July, several of his major business partners were ready to disassociate themselves. Many companies have temporarily or permanently broken connections with the singer, including the French fashion business Louis Vuitton, the Italian luxury brand Bulgari, and the Chinese cosmetics company Kans.
Even after being detained, Wu’s precipitous decline continued. His once-hugely-popular social media profiles were deleted without warning, including his Weibo page that had 51 million followers. Also, all of his music was taken down from streaming services.
As of Monday night, Wu’s arrest was the most discussed topic on Weibo, with most users expressing approval of the police’s decision. As of Tuesday morning, a hashtag on Weibo relating to the event had been viewed 1.6 billion times.
(me Too) in China
However, Wu’s story is hardly the only #Metoo incident to have shook China recently. Alibaba, a major online retailer, announced last Monday that it had fired an employee who had been accused of sexually assaulting another worker while on a business trip.
Authorities in both instances investigated claims made by victims on Chinese social media, where they provoked widespread outrage.
Some internet users lauded the government’ quick responses, citing the two cases as evidence of China’s efficient rule of law and criminal justice system. The high-profile nature of the cases, however, raised questions among many who believed it demonstrated how uncommon it is for survivors to speak up and seek justice.
Feminist researcher and activist Feng Yuan remarked, “It is unexpected that both cases have received such wide notice, considering (Kris Wu) and Alibaba’s prominent prominence.
” Yet, as the article points out, “this also serves as a warning that for many other cases of sexual harassment and assault, if the accused are not so renowned or important, (victims) might not have their voices heard at all.” Survivors of sexual assault in China have historically encountered significant levels of official and public stigma and opposition.
In 2018, the #MeToo movement gained worldwide attention and brought the issue to the forefront. Although it did inspire many women in China to speak up about their experiences with sexual misconduct and assault, the movement was rapidly quashed as the authorities sought to block the burgeoning online conversation, including the censorship of the hashtag and numerous associated articles.
Recent examples, activists argue, demonstrate the government’s continued reluctance to confront sexual misconduct as a systematic problem, opting instead to focus on isolated incidents and assign blame.
An official monitoring group, for instance, pointed to the Kris Wu case as an example of “the black hand of the capital” and “the wild growth of the entertainment business.” In addition, the editorial board of the state-controlled Global Times newspaper cited the Alibaba issue as evidence of the need for stricter “legal and moral oversight” in the technology industry and a need for businesses to better integrate social values into their operations.
Activists claim that a lack of government assistance for victims of sexual assault and other forms of violence against women, as well as pervasive gender inequality, are at the heart of the problem.
According to Lv Pin, a prominent Chinese feminist now living in New York, the government is hesitant to acknowledge public fury over these fundamental issues since doing so could stimulate greater social mobilization and activity.
Feng claimed that neither of the alleged victims in the Kris Wu nor the Alibaba cases mentioned #MeToo, which is a popular topic for online suppression.
In spite of the government’s unwillingness to discuss sexual misconduct, these two cases have provided activists with a glimmer of optimism.
According to Feng, “whether they call it #MeToo or not, the essence remains #MeToo.” Although several major feminist social media accounts have been blocked, victims will find other methods to express themselves.