Chinese police have detained a man who posed as #MeToo victims and a lawyer to profit from sexual abuse allegations involving one of China’s biggest pop stars.
By pretending to be a fellow victim, the 23-year-old man surnamed Liu won the trust of a woman who has accused singer Kris Wu of sexual abuse, Beijing police said. Using information he got from the woman, he posed as her to extort money from the star.
The accuser Du Meizhu, an 18-year-old college student, said Wu’s manager brought her to a casting interview at the pop star’s home, where Wu allegedly plied her with alcohol and prevented her from leaving. Wu had sex with her after she passed out from drinking, she said in a series of social media posts and interviews with Chinese news outlets this month. Wu has denied all accusations of misconduct.
The allegations against Wu, a hip-hop artist and former member of K-pop group EXO, have set off a women’s solidarity campaign on the Chinese internet. At least three other women publicly stated they had received flirtatious messages from the 30-year-old star.
Businesses including Bulgari and Louis Vuitton cut ties with the star under public pressure. Many female internet users have expressed support for Du and called for law enforcement agencies to investigate Wu’s alleged predatory behaviors.
But the investigation took an unexpected turn this week. In a statement issued on Thursday, Beijing police said they had detained 23-year-old Liu, accusing the man of impersonating Du and asking the pop star for 3 million Chinese yuan ($460,000).
After making the demand, Liu posed as Wu’s lawyer and contacted Du online to offer her a fake, $460,000 settlement deal, according to the police. Wu’s mother then transferred $77,200 to Du, presumably to settle the case for her son. Wu’s studio previously said on Weibo that the mother gave her the money under pressure.
Then, Liu told Du she had to return the money if she did not want to settle. Du sent part of the funds to who she thought was Wu’s lawyer but was actually Liu, police said. She said she could not return all the money at once due to a daily transfer limit.
Police confirmed that the singer’s manager had brought the accuser Du to his place on the pretext of casting for a music video actress, and that Du had sex with Wu after drinking. But they did not say if Wu was suspected of rape. The statement said police were still looking into reports that Wu “tricked young women into having sex” on multiple occasions.
Meanwhile, police said Du had exposed her interactions with the pop star online in an attempt to seek fame, adding that she worked with a writer in drafting her social media posts.
State-run newspapers then attacked the woman for hyping up her allegations for fame. The official Legal Daily called her a “malicious marketer.” The Beijing Daily said instead of reporting the case to police, Du posted her allegations online to seek attention and followers.
Feminist advocates say the official words against a potential victim reflect the difficulty sexual abuse survivors in China face in seeking help and justice.
Zheng Churan, a feminist activist who has campaigned against sexual harassment in China, said many victims have resorted to posting their experiences online because it would be even harder to uphold their rights through official channels.
“If authorities label this as fame-seeking… it might put the victims under more public pressure,” she said. “Eventually, the victims would have no way to defend their rights, and the assailants would be emboldened.”
While many celebrities have openly supported #MeToo victims in the West, fellow pop stars in China, who are expected to carefully toe the official line, have stayed silent on the Kris Wu controversy.
The state media editorials have triggered strong backlash. Many women are angered by what they see as victim-blaming and dismissal of rape allegations.
In a response on Thursday, Du, the accuser, said she did not profit from the saga, and was only speaking out for all the potential victims. “You can say I’m hyping things up and want to get famous,” she said. “I don’t care. The ending may not satisfy everyone, but I really tried my best.”