WARNING: This article contains graphic content and may affect those who have experienced sexual violence or know someone affected by it.
Chinese-Canadian pop star Kris Wu has faced rape and other criminal charges at a closed trial in Beijing as China was in an uproar over a video showing a group of men physically assaulting four women in another city.
Wu’s trial Friday at the Chaoyang People’s court was reported late Friday night by Chang’An Net, which belongs to China’s Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission, which is controlled by the ruling Communist Party.
Announcement sparks criticism over timing
Many social media users in China criticized the timing of the trial announcement.
“More concerned about the Tangshan matter,” said the top comment on Weibo, a popular Chinese social media site, in response to the Political and Legal Affairs’ account. It was liked more than 22,000 times.
The attack on four women dining at a restaurant early Friday morning in Tangshan, a coastal city east of Beijing, was seen in surveillance footage shared widely on Weibo. By Sunday, police had arrested nine people on suspicion of violent assault in the case.
The assault and the public outcry renewed a conversation about misogyny and mistreatment of women in China.
Earlier this year, video surfaced of a woman who had been chained in a shack. The police investigation found she had been trafficked and sold as a bride.
Verdict and sentence to be issued later
Wu, meanwhile, had been in police custody since August last year.
The trial of the former member of Korean group EXO was closed to the public to protect the victim’s privacy, state media said. He was tried on charges of rape as well as the “crime of assembling a crowd to engage in sexual promiscuity.”
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Rape is punished with anywhere between three to 10 years in prison, although life sentences and death sentences can also be given in exceptional cases.
The second charge Wu faces is punishable by up to five years in prison.
The verdict and sentence were to be issued later, state media said.
Last year, a teenager accused Wu of having sex with her while she was drunk. Wu denied the accusation.
The teenager also then said seven other women contacted her to say Wu seduced them with promises of jobs and other opportunities. She said some were under 18.
Wu, known in Chinese as Wu Yifan, grew up in Guangzhou in southern China and in Vancouver. He performed with EXO from 2012 to 2014, then launched a solo career.
Support is available for anyone who has been sexually assaulted. You can access crisis lines and local support services through this Government of Canada website or the Ending Violence Association of Canada database. If you’re in immediate danger or fear for your safety or that of others around you, please call 911.