Chinese pop idol Kris Wu denied date raping a teenage student Monday, as brands began severing ties with the star. Wu shot to fame as a member of the South Korean boy band EXO, and has racked up a slew of lucrative acting, modelling and singing gigs in China since leaving the group in 2014. Du Meizhu, 19, accused the 30-year-old popstar of date-raping her when she was 17 in a Sunday interview with Chinese news portal NetEase. She also said Wu had slept with at least seven other girls under the age of 18, seducing them with alcohol and promises of fame.
These include two “who are still minors who don’t want their lives to be disturbed but wish to see him punished,” Du said. The legal age of sexual consent in China is 14. Wu, who also holds Canadian citizenship and grew up between Vancouver and Guangzhou, denied the allegations on social media.
“I only met Miss Du once at a friend’s gathering, I didn’t ply her with alcohol… I have never ‘coerced women into sex’ or engaged in ‘date rape’,” the megastar also known as Wu Yifan, wrote on Monday, adding he does not sleep with underage girls.
His studio said it had begun legal action against the accuser. Du said the K-pop star had attempted to buy her silence with 500,000 RMB ($77,100) and told NetEase she planned to proceed “with legal proceedings”.
“My life has definitely been ruined. Although I have only ever slept with Wu, the public has long thought that I’m damaged goods,” she wrote in a Weibo post with over 7.3 million likes. Du said she wants justice for the other victims. She gave Wu an ultimatum to quit the Chinese entertainment industry within 24 hours and apologise publicly to his victims. The allegations triggered an outpouring of solidarity from Chinese women, with the Weibo hashtag “girls help girls” gaining over 130 million views by Monday.
The hashtags “Du Meizhu interview” and “Du Meizhu demands Wu Yifan announce he is quitting the entertainment industry” gained 1.8 billion and 440 million views respectively on the Twitter-like platform. Domestic skincare brand Kans, music streaming platform Yunting, and household detergent maker Libai announced they would sever all ties with Wu. The singer holds several lucrative advertising deals with foreign luxury brands including Lancome, Louis Vuitton, L’Oreal, Bulgari and Kiehl’s. China’s #MeToo movement sparked by feminist activists in 2018 saw a handful of public figures fall from grace due to sexual harassment allegations, giving ordinary women the courage to voice their experiences with sexual assault online for the first time. However, victims have found it difficult to seek justice through China’s opaque legal system.—AFP