Allegations of date rape . . .
China’s #MeToo movement got a jolt of energy this week when sexual assault allegations surfaced against 30-year-old Chinese Canadian pop star Kris Wu. Wu grew up in both China and Vancouver and launched his career as part of the South Korean boy band EXO, before leaving the group in 2014 to pursue a solo career in China. His accuser is 19-year-old social media influencer Du Meizhu. Du claims that Wu and his associates lured her with offers of professional opportunities and impaired her with alcohol, after which Wu sexually assaulted her, in 2019. She says she knows of seven other victims, some of whom were minors (below the age of 18) when the assaults happened. Wu vigorously denies the allegations.
Hemorrhaging support . . .
In China, men accused of sexual assault or sexual harassment often fight back with defamation lawsuits against their accusers – lawsuits that often disadvantage the latter. Kris Wu indicated he will be pursuing such a case against Du Meizhu. But Wu may already have lost in the court of public opinion. Du has seen an “outpouring of support” on social media, including with the hashtag #girlshelpgirls. Additionally, more than a dozen international and Chinese brands have cut or suspended their partnerships with Wu and could sue him for financial damages.
The age factor . . .
Another ominous sign for Kris Wu is the tone taken by Chinese state media, which normally urges against a rush to judgement in these cases, sometimes even raising doubts about the accusers. In this case, however, news outlets have been more critical, reporting on the details of the allegations and discussing possible punishments for Wu. This shift in tone may be due to the age of the alleged victims. Although the legal age of consent in China is 14, many Chinese people seem especially disturbed by the possibility of so many girls having been assaulted when they were minors. Since Du went public with her allegations, another two dozen women have come forward with similar accusations against Kris Wu.
- New York Times: One of China’s biggest stars faces a #MeToo storm
- Sixth Tone: Several brands cut ties with Kris Wu over alleged sexual abuse
- Washington Post: A woman won a landmark #MeToo case in China. Why is winning so hard?