A Chinese court ruled late Tuesday against the plaintiff in one of China’s most prominent #MeToo cases on the grounds that there was “insufficient” evidence to support her claims.
The ruling is a clear setback to China’s still-fledgling #MeToo movement, despite new developments recently that seemed to indicate it was picking up steam.
In 2018, Zhou Xiaoxuan, 28, accused prominent CCTV anchor Zhu Jun of groping and kissing her against her will four years prior while she was working for him as an intern — a case that went viral after she sued him for damages. Zhu has denied the charges.
Zhou has since become one of the most prominent voices pushing #MeToo awareness in China.
After years in limbo, the first hearing was finally held last December, but was closed to the public. The second hearing took place Tuesday.
Speaking to supporters after the conclusion of the hearing, Zhou said that she was “exhausted” and “disappointed” about the verdict, according to Reuters. She has since said, however, that she will appeal.
China’s #MeToo movement appeared to gain traction in recent months with two rare high-profile cases in which outcomes swung in favor of the victim. First, the China-born Canadian celebrity Kris Wu was arrested on charges of alleged sexual assault following online accusations from a young woman whose account went viral. Days later, accusations of sexual assault of an Alibaba employee by her supervisor also went viral, leading to the firing of the manager and a vow from top brass that the company would fast track revisions to its sexual harassment policies.
But observers say that such positive outcomes will likely never extend to people with ties to Chinese officialdom — as was the case with Zhu, the face of the official state broadcaster CCTV, which is the voice of the Communist Party’s party line.