Several major luxury brands have severed ties with Kris Wu, a Sino-Canadian singer with a large following, after an 18-year-old accused him of targeting and pressuring her and other young women to have sex.
The allegations, which Mr. Wu has denied in several statements, have sparked widespread public outrage and upset his career. At least 11 companies, including Louis Vuitton, Bulgari, Porsche and L’Oréal, suspended or terminated contracts with Mr Wu this week after his prosecutor spoke out in an interview with an online Chinese news agency on Sunday.
Mr. Wu, 30, rose to fame as a member of the K-pop band EXO before embarking on a solo career as a model, actor, and singer, drawing more than 50 million online fans and lucrative advertising deals. Known in China as Wu Yifan, he is one of the most popular celebrities in the country to face the #MeToo allegations.
Mr. Wu’s accuser is Du Meizhu, a university student in Beijing who said she first met him when she was 17. She said she was invited to Mr. Wu’s home by his agent with the suggestion that he could help her acting career, according to her social media posts and the interview with Netease, an online portal. Once there, she was pressured to drink cocktails until she passed out, she said, and later found herself in his bed.
Ms. Du said she believed this was a tactic he used to attract other young women. She accused Mr. Wu of treating women as if they were all concubines in a harem. “You look at a lot of pictures of girls at drinking parties and choose them like merchandise,” she wrote in a social media post and addressed him directly.
Mr. Wu has denied the allegations made by his attorney Zhai Jiayu and made public statements. On Monday, Mr. Wu said that he only met Ms. Du once in December last year.
“I declare that there has never been a ‘choice of a concubine’!” He wrote on the social media platform Weibo, referring to Ms. Du’s harem commentary. He denied ever seducing, drugging, or raping anyone. “If there was such behavior, please don’t worry, I will go to jail alone!”
His lawyer has vowed to file a lawsuit against Ms. Du and to report her to the police for defamation. Ms. Du also said that she reported her allegations to the police.
Ms. Du and Mr. Wu did not respond to requests via email to leave comments.
Ms. Du’s report received widespread support, a sign of the growing strength of the country’s small Me Too movement. One of her posts on Weibo was liked by more than 10 million users. Hashtags like #girlshelpgirls and others urging Mr. Wu to quit show business have been viewed by millions.
Ms. Du’s supporters flooded several brands’ social media pages with boycott threats if they did not terminate their advertising contracts with Mr. Wu. Gradually, the brands distanced themselves from him.
“This incident shows that nowadays people have stopped swallowing insults and humiliations and are afraid of being shoddy,” said Feng Yuan, a feminist scientist and activist. “People increasingly want to raise their voices and make themselves heard.”
# MeToo activism can be challenging in China, where the ruling Communist Party strictly limits dissenting opinions and public debate. Some women who have made reports of abuse have faced a public and legal backlash. The authorities often discourage women from reporting rape and other sex crimes.
It was unclear how the authorities would respond to the allegations against Mr. Wu, but at least three government-affiliated groups requested an investigation.
“Everyone is equal before the law, and celebrities with large fan bases are no exception,” China Women’s News, a state women’s group newspaper, wrote on its social media page. “Believe that the law will not wrong a good person, nor will it let a bad one go.”
Ms. Du started speaking on July 8th when she posted screenshots of conversations between her and Mr. Wu, as well as people she said worked for him. She accused them of seducing young women by giving up show business opportunities.
In a screenshot from last July, a person asked Ms. Du on Weibo if she was interested in working in the film industry. The person then added their contact on WeChat, a chat app, and asked if they had just finished their college entrance exam, saying that he worked for Mr. Wu’s studio and they were looking for new talent.
Ms. Du said she felt helpless when she learned that Mr. Wu was targeting young women like her. “We’re all tender hearted when we see your innocent expression, but that doesn’t mean we want to be toys that you can fool!” She wrote in a post on Weibo.
She said shortly thereafter, another Mr. Wu employee contacted her through WeChat to offer her hush money to take the post off. When she requested a public apology from Mr. Wu, the employee said they are considering legal action against her, according to screenshots of the chat she posted online. She said that 500,000 yuan, or nearly $ 80,000, was later transferred to her bank account, despite not giving her consent.
In the Netease interview on Sunday, Ms. Du said she had started returning the money in bulk and was preparing for a lawsuit.
When she first met Mr. Wu, Ms. Du said that she had been told that she would discuss potential jobs. She said that she tried to leave, but his staff took away her phone and warned that if Mr. Wu does not have a good time, it could be detrimental to her future as an actor.
Under pressure to drink a lot, she said, she ended up sleeping with Mr. Wu. They were dated, according to their account of the events, until March when he stopped responding to their calls and messages.
Since then, she has heard from seven other women who have been treated similarly. She said she also wanted to fight for her interests. She did not identify the other people and the allegations could not be immediately confirmed.
Since going public, Ms. Du has said she was targeted by cyberbullying, death threats and diagnosed with depression. Mr. Wu’s international fan club said in a post on Weibo: “It’s a shame to see a baseless internet drama turn into an evil carnival that breaks the truth and the law.”
But several other people posted messages of support on social media this week, including screenshots of chats they said Mr. Wu or his staff were inappropriately targeting young women.
“Girls, please protect yourself,” Zhang Dansan, a former girl band member, wrote on Weibo Monday after sharing screenshots of conversations that she said showed Mr. Wu asking her if she was Be a virgin. “I want to be loved too, but don’t be fooled.”