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#MeToo Lands in China

In spite of almost immediate censorship from the Chinese government, China’s nascent #MeToo movement has refused to be stifled. During the summer of 2018, the movement—predominantly led by student activists—resonated across university campuses in China. Online, the #MeToo hashtag has since collected over 4.5 million hits on Weibo, with activists sidestepping online censors through the use of homophones, including #MiTu, which roughly translates to #RiceBunny. #MeToo in China has led to accusations against multiple high-profile men in the realms of academia, media, and civil society, including activist Lei Chuang, environmentalist Feng Yongfeng, and journalists Zhang Wen and Xiong Peiyun. Recently, accusations against two other well-known men have emerged—Buddhist Master Xuecheng and billionaire Richard Qiangdong Liu, founder and CEO of JD.com. On 15 August, Xuecheng resigned from his tenure as head of China’s government-run Buddhist Association after being accused of sexual assault and harassment. A 95-page dossier, compiled by two supervisory chancellors at Beijing’s Longquan Temple, contains several reports of Xuecheng sending sexually aggressive texts to nuns and disciples, with one woman accusing him of rape. Liu was arrested on 31 August following allegations of rape from a Chinese student at the University of Minnesota. If found guilty, Liu faces up to 30 years in prison. Although the movement so far has stopped short of attacking any powerful figure in the Party-state apparatus, the downfall of such high-profile and influential individuals has been well-received as victories for China’s #MeToo movement. TS

(Sources: Chublic Opinion; Reuters 1; Reuters 2; SBS; South China Morning Post 1; South China Morning Post 2; The Atlantic; The Wall Street Journal; The Washington Post 1; The Washington Post 2)

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