The Beijing Chaoyang district police wrote on their official Weibo late Saturday: “In response to internet reports ‘Wu X-fan has repeatedly tricked young women into having sex’ and other related issues, Wu X-fan (male, 30, Canadian) has been detained in accordance with the law after police investigations for the suspected crime of rape.”
Wu is one of China’s most high-profile celebrities. Within just 25 minutes, the police’s post garnered more than 3.33 million likes and the hashtag “#Wu Yifan has been detained” became the number one hot search on China’s Twitter-like Weibo platform.
The move marks a milestone for China’s treatment of sexual assault cases in the entertainment industry. Sexual assault scandals involving Chinese celebrities are very rarely resolved quickly. Female victims often choose to remain silent about their experiences because those who do step forward to lodge formal complaints often find themselves in a drawn-out civil suit rather than a criminal suit.
This case, which has ignited the Chinese internet for weeks, appears to be different.
A 19-year-old college student, Du Meizhu, has been the public face of the accusations against Wu. Since early July, she has been posting allegations on social media that he purportedly got her drunk at a party and date raped her, and that he has done the same to at least seven other young women, often found via casting calls or selected from his fan groups.
Wu has denied those and other allegations, writing via his official Weibo account: “I only met this woman once on Dec. 5, 2020 while with a group of friends… I declare I have never done anything like ‘selecting concubines,’ coercing women into sex, drugging people to rape them, or engaging with underage girls! If there really had been this behavior, I would certainly willingly go to jail.”
Two of Wu’s representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment, nor did the Canadian embassies in Beijing and Washington, D.C.
Minutes after the police statement, China’s high-level Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission — the authority that oversees the country’s legal enforcement apparatus, including its police — made a statement of its own via the verified Weibo of its official website, a sign that bodes poorly for Wu.
It said that the procedures for such cases must “base themselves on facts and take the law as the criterion,” writing: “On Chinese soil, it is necessary to abide by Chinese law.” The post included a short video of a cell phone swiping over the Beijing police’s post set to crime drama-like music, and has since been liked half a million times.
Wu’s detention comes even though the Beijing police ruled last week that Du and friend with whom she had written her initial posts had done so “in order to enhance their own popularity online.” It also ruled that conflicting claims about an alleged settlement between the Wu and Du camps were the result of a third-party man defrauding both sides.
That earlier police report did, however, confirm parts of Du’s story, stating that she had encountered Wu at his house party after his agent cast her in a music video, and that they had sexual intercourse after she drank there with him until the following morning.
It also said that it was still in the middle of an investigation into the sexual assault claims against Wu, even though it stated in a subsequent interview that neither Du nor any of Wu’s other alleged victims had formally filed a police report against him.
Chinese politicians, industry associations and state media have pushed the idea that “immoral” artists should be banned for life. Even though Wu has not yet formally been charged with any crimes, the allegations against him have already wrought enough reputational damage to significantly impact his career.
Last Tuesday, state broadcaster CCTV called on the entertainment industry to do more to ensure that stars demonstrate “social responsibility.”
“Now that the Kris Wu incident has blown up to such proportions, it is no longer mere entertainment industry gossip, but a legal case and public incident of great influence, requiring a comprehensive investigation by the relevant departments to resolve any doubts.”
Film and TV projects featuring celebrities who have run afoul of the law or embroiled in scandal are typically shelved indefinitely or else picked through frame by frame to edit out all traces of the star in question. In Wu’s case, Tencent’s upcoming costume drama series “The Golden Hairpin” may be one of his major works affected.
Wu rose to fame as part of the Chinese-language offshoot of SM Entertainment’s boyband EXO, which he left in 2014 to focus on his career in China. The rapper has since become a fixture as a judge and mentor on some of the country’s top music competition variety shows, and went on in 2018 to sign an exclusive distribution deal with Universal Music.
Previously repped by UTA and CAA, Wu has appeared in Hollywood films including “XXX: Return of Xander Cage” and “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets,” as well as Chinese films such as Guan Hu’s “Mr. Six,” where he appeared opposite Feng Xiaogang.