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Shock to China’s #Metoo movement, court rules against the complainant

Zhou Xiaoshuan accused television personality Zhu Jun of sexual harassment.

Beijing:

A Beijing court ruled late Tuesday against a complainant in a high-profile Chinese sexual assault case, saying there was insufficient evidence to support her claims, a decision that jolted China’s #MeToo movement.

Zhou Xiaoxuan, 28, extorting and forcibly kissing her in 2014 when he was an apprentice working for her, denies allegations she accused television personality Zhu Jun in a series of social media posts in 2018.

Zhou’s allegation quickly went viral and she sued Zhu for damages three years ago, although the first hearing of the case did not take place behind closed doors until December 2020. The second hearing on Tuesday also took place behind closed doors.

The Haidian People’s Court, in a ruling that Zhou and Zhu are identified by their surnames, said that the evidence presented was “insufficient” to prove sexual assault.

It was not clear whether Zhu was present in court on Tuesday. Zhu’s lawyer could not be reached.

After the court’s ruling, Zhou told a small group of supporters that she was “tired” and “disappointed” to hear the verdict after pursuing her case for three years. In his view, he said, he was not given the opportunity to give a proper account of what happened.

“I don’t know if I still have the courage to last three years, so I don’t know if it’s time to bid farewell.”

In a later statement, however, Zhou said his team would appeal against the decision.

“We will certainly appeal, because in this case we didn’t see any key facts, it’s all surveillance video.”

China’s #MeToo movement began in 2018 when a college student in Beijing publicly accused her professor of sexual harassment. It spread to NGOs, the media and other industries.

The #MeToo discussion was suppressed then, but recent widespread coverage in China, without explicit censorship, sexual harassment scandals involving tech giant Alibaba and celebrity Chris Wu, has rekindled the topic.

(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NB staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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