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Chinese court dismisses TV intern’s #MeToo case appeal

Zhou Xiaoxuan’s claims that she had been sexually harassed by Zhu Jun, a well-known host of state broadcaster CCTV, were rejected by a lower court last year.
Image: Zhou Xiaoxuan
Zhou Xiaoxuan, a feminist figure who rose to prominence in the Chinas #MeToo movement, answers questions during an interview at her house in Beijing on Dec. 2, 2020. Noel Celis / AFP via Getty Images file
/ Source: Reuters

BEIJING — A Beijing court on Wednesday dismissed an appeal by a plaintiff in a high-profile Chinese sexual harassment case involving a well-known host of state broadcaster CCTV, a decision likely to deal a blow to China’s #MeToo movement.

Zhou Xiaoxuan, 29, accused one of CCTV’s premier entertainment show hosts, Zhu Jun, of groping and forcibly kissing her in 2014 when she was an intern working for him, allegations he denies.

Zhou’s accusations, posted on social media in 2018, quickly went viral and she sued Zhu for damages that year. In September 2021, after two closed-door hearings, Haidian People’s Court, a district court in the Chinese capital, rejected her claims due to insufficient evidence.

Zhou vowed to appeal. Following a further closed-door trial, the Beijing Municipal No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court said late on Wednesday it “rejected all of Zhou’s appeals and upheld the original judgment.”

“The court held that the evidence submitted by the appellant Zhou was not sufficient to prove that Zhu had sexually harassed her, and that the appeal could not be substantiated,” the court said on its official Weibo account.

Zhou can apply to appeal again if new evidence is discovered.

Neither Zhou nor Zhu immediately responded to a Reuters request for comment. However, Zhou did post a video on her WeChat account on Tuesday, a day before the verdict was announced, in which she said she hoped people would not be discouraged.

“I have no regrets about standing up to all this, and I know that all painful feelings and hardships are precious, and I hope that you are like me, but still believe that everything has meaning.”

China’s #MeToo movement took off in 2018 when a college student in Beijing publicly accused her professor of sexual harassment. It spread to NGOs, media and other industries.