China’s Corporate World Is Reckoning With Its #MeToo Moment

China’s Corporate World Is Reckoning With Its #MeToo Moment
Supporters hold banners as they wait for of Zhou Xiaoxuan outside at a courthouse where Zhou is appearing in a sexual harassment case in Beijing, China, Dec. 2, 2020 (AP photo by Andy Wong).

Editor’s Note: This is the web version of our subscriber-only weekly newsletter, China Note, which includes a look at the week’s top stories and best reads from and about China. Subscribe to receive it by email every Wednesday. If you’re already a subscriber, adjust your newsletter settings to receive it directly to your email inbox. The Alibaba Group has once again come under scrutiny this week, after a female employee of the online shopping behemoth accused her supervisor of rape during a business trip, sparking furor on the internet and across China. The allegation is far from an isolated incident, as the problems of sexism and misogyny are not limited to Alibaba or China’s corporate world. It remains to be seen whether the incident serves as an inflection point when it comes to actually addressing them.

In a long essay published last Friday on the company’s internal message board, a female employee of the group’s online grocery platform Taoxianda alleged that her male supervisor, Wang Chengwen, also known within the corporate world as Quyi, coerced her into joining him on a business trip to Jinan, in Shandong province, last month. Upon arriving in Jinan, the employee and her supervisor were hosted at a banquet, where she was pressured to drink alcohol. After a few drinks, she became inebriated and was molested by one of the clients attending the banquet. 

The woman woke up the next morning to find herself naked, with vague recollections of her supervisor kissing and touching her as she sobbed in bed, unable to move. She immediately called the police and requested to review the security camera footage from the previous evening, which showed her supervisor entering her room four times over the night with a key card obtained from the hotel reception. “Writing this up, I could no longer control myself and cried from the devastation,” the employee wrote. “It feels like a dream, like a terrifying, frightening, helpless nightmare.” 

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