Kris Wu is the latest Chinese celebrity involved in sexual assault allegations. Photo: Edward Berthelot/Getty Images
A college student’s sexual assault accusations against Kris Wu have sparked a solidarity campaign supporting the woman, prompting businesses to cut ties with the A-list celebrity. The accuser, Du Meizhu, alleged that the 30-year-old had lured her and other women into having sex using his wealth and influence as one of China’s most popular stars. In the interview published by NetEase on Sunday, Du said Wu’s managers set her up with the star last year by promising her opportunities in the entertainment industry. Only 17 at the time, the acting major was allegedly brought to a casting interview at Wu’s home, where she was given alcohol and prevented from leaving.
“I became unconscious soon,” Du told the outlet. “When I woke up again, I was on Wu’s bed.” She said Wu did not use a condom. Du came under the impression she and Wu were entering into a relationship, but the pop star began ignoring her a few months later. She eventually got in touch with several other women, including two minors, who had similar experiences with Wu, Du said in the interview. Wu, the Chinese-Canadian former member of K-pop group EXO, denied the accusations on the microblogging site Weibo on Monday. His studio said in a statement that it had reported Du’s “defamatory” acts to the police. Du and Wu did not respond to requests for comment.
Du’s accusations have sparked an explosion of support from female internet users. Awareness of women’s rights is on the rise on the Chinese internet. Against the backdrop of the global #MeToo movement, Chinese women have spoken up to accuse prominent men of aggressive pursuit, sexual harassment, and rape. On Monday, a slew of brands, including tissue maker Tempo, Tencent Video, and detergent manufacturer Liby, announced they had cut ties with Wu. Internet users also flooded the Weibo pages of brands that still have deals with him—including Bulgari, Porsche, and Louis Vuitton—with criticism for continuing to work with the star.
Facing a rise in feminist advocacy, Chinese authorities have in recent years stepped up anti-sexual harassment regulations. But women’s solidarity campaigns regularly run into censorship in a country that suppresses civil activism. Zhou Xiaoxuan, who accused the prominent TV host Zhu Jun of groping her during her internship at state broadcaster CCTV, recently got banned from posting on Weibo for a year, after she posted details about the ongoing legal battle with Zhu. In 2019, a number of outlets were banned on WeChat after they shared a petition to gather support for Liu Jingyao, a woman who sued e-commerce giant JD.com founder Richard Liu of rape in Minnesota. Wu, the pop star, has become the most powerful public figure involved in sexual assault accusations in China after Zhu and Liu. Known for his rap songs and street style, Wu amassed a huge fan base in China with the rise of hip-hop in the country. He talks about race cars and sneakers, regularly appears on fashion magazine covers, and works with top brands. He was a judge in the hit hip-hop contest The Rap of China, and played the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game in 2018 alongside Justin Bieber. But now, public outrage is challenging his stardom. On Sunday, his accuser Du demanded that he quit the entertainment industry within 24 hours and send handwritten apology letters to all the alleged victims. She penis-shamed Wu by calling him “Wu the toothpick.”
“Such a tough woman!!!!” said the top-voted comment on Du’s demand. The top comment under Wu’s denial post is “get out.” The next morning, the hashtag #girls help girls# became the top trending item on Weibo as internet users voiced their support for Du, although the platform removed the hashtag about an hour later. On Monday, two other women shared screenshots of flirty messages allegedly from Wu. In one conversation, Wu appeared to ask a former girl group member if she was a virgin and pushed her to meet in person. Wu has not commented on the purported chat records.Follow Viola Zhou on Twitter.