Asia Life

Has the #MeToo Moment Finally Reached China?

A Beijing professor accused of sexual harassment draws national attention.

Has the #MeToo Moment Finally Reached China?
Credit: CC0 image via Pixabay

In 2017, the wave of sexual assault and harassment scandals touched off by revelations about film producer and executive Harvey Weinstein fed into the rise of a movement: #MeToo. The #MeToo campaign has spread across the world through social media and prompted thousands of women to stand up against such misconduct by speaking about their own experiences. However, faced with this international campaign, the Chinese public seemed to be motionless, until the very beginning of 2018.

On December 31, 2017, Luo Xixi, a former student at Beihang University in Beijing posted an article under the #MeToo hashtag on her Weibo, publicly accusing her former doctoral professor Chen Xiaowu of harassing her 14 years ago.

According to her account, in 2004, Chen, who currently holds the position of standing vice president at the Graduate School in Beihang University, had driven her to his home, complained to her about his sex life with his wife, and then attempted to rape her.

“I was so frightened that I cried and begged him. I told him I was still a virgin, so he hesitated… and finally sent me home,” Luo wrote in her post.

According to Luo, following the incident, Chen picked on her at school. Suffering from the nightmare, she became depressed. In order to get free his grip, she tried her best to study abroad and eventually arrived in the United States.

Now, inspired by the #MeToo movement in the United States, Luo decided tell her story and accused Chen publicly.

Chen has been haunted by several anonymous accusations online in recent months. Several of Chen’s current or former students had complained about Chen’s misconduct including sexual harassment on — a Chinese equivalent of Quora. Due to lack of direct evidence, Chen had been able to remain in his position.

Luo’s public accusation went viral in Chinese social media, and seems to have made some impact.

On January 1, 2018, Beihang University released a statement on its Weibo, claiming that the school takes the accusations against Chen seriously. A special group has been set up to investigate the case, and Chen has been suspended.

On the same day, Chen told Beijing Youth Daily that he has done nothing that violated any laws or regulations; he will wait for the result of the school’s investigation; and he will retain all legal rights since the matter involves his personal reputation. However, he didn’t directly deny the allegations made by Luoand others.

Under current circumstances, it’s still uncertain whether Chen will end up as the “first Chinese Harvey Weinstein” or not. But it seems that the #MeToo moment has reached China at last.

“My fellow schoolmates, do not be afraid. Having been sexually harassed, we have to stand up bravely and say No!” Luo urged her readers.