Chinese court dismisses high-profile #MeToo case

The allegations of groping and kissing levelled by Zhou Xiaoxuan, then an intern, against Zhu Jun, anchor with national broadcaster, CCTV, was at the centre of China’s MeToo movement in 2018.
Zhou Xiaoxuan, also known by her online name Xianzi, arrives at a court for a sexual harassment case involving a Chinese state TV host, in Beijing, China on Tuesday. (REUTERS)
Zhou Xiaoxuan, also known by her online name Xianzi, arrives at a court for a sexual harassment case involving a Chinese state TV host, in Beijing, China on Tuesday. (REUTERS)
Published on Sep 15, 2021 11:07 AM IST
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By Sutirtho Patranobis I Edited by Amit Chanda

A Beijing court has dismissed a high-profile sexual harassment case levelled by a woman against a top television host, saying there’s insufficient evidence to support her claims.

The allegations of groping and kissing levelled by Zhou Xiaoxuan, then an intern, against Zhu Jun, anchor with national broadcaster, CCTV, were at the centre of China’s MeToo movement in 2018.

The incident had taken place in 2014, Zhou Xiaoxuan had said in her detailed allegations posted online.

Zhu Jun had denied the allegations and counter-sued Zhou Xiaoxuan for defamation.

The court’s dismissal of the case late on Tuesday night is likely to have an impact on the movement.

“The Haidian People’s Court said in a judgment which only identified Zhou and Zhu by their surnames that the evidence submitted was “insufficient” to prove sexual harassment,” Reuters news agency said in a report on Wednesday.

Zhou Xiaoxuan, according to Reuters, told a small group of supporters after the court’s decision that after three years of pushing her case she felt “exhausted” and “disappointed” on hearing the verdict. In her view, Zhou Xiaoxuan said, she had not been given a chance to give a proper account of what happened.

Zhou Xiaoxuan said her team would appeal the verdict. “We will definitely appeal, because in this case we didn’t look at any of the core facts at all, that is all of the surveillance videos,” the statement said.

In an online interview with HT in 2018, Zhou Xiaoxuan, then known by her moniker, Xianzi, had said that the #MeToo movement in India had been inspiring.

She had said the anti-sexual harassment movement in India was a source of “great encouragement and inspiration” to her and others fighting the battle in China amid social stigma and restricted media coverage.

“Although the target of my allegation is just a TV presenter, people (in China) associate him with authorities and think of him as someone who has a positive image,” Zhou Xiaoxuan had said.

The anchor’s close association with the government had often made her nervous. “Inevitably, there were doubts and criticism. We were haunted by censorship, and people kept accusing me and others of not calling the police from the very beginning,” she had told HT.

Last week, a court in the eastern Shandong province dismissed another high-profile sexual assault case brought by a female employee of technology giant Alibaba, who alleged she was raped by a manager after a dinner.

The court ruled that “forcible indecency” committed by the accused was not a crime.

In July, Chinese-Canadian pop star Kris Wu, who has acted in the 2017 Hollywood movie XXX: Return of Xander Cage, was arrested after several women came forward alleging rape and sexual coercion.

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Tuesday, October 26, 2021