The Chinese-Canadian pop star Kris Wu has gone on trial for alleged rape and other offenses in Beijing, as China is in uproar over a video showing a group of men physically assaulting four women in the city of Tangshan.
Wu’s closed trial on Friday at the Chaoyang people’s court was reported late on Friday night by Chang’An Net, which belongs to China’s Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission, in turn controlled by the ruling Communist party.
There was some online criticism of the timing of the trial announcement. “More concerned about the Tangshan matter,” said the top comment on Weibo in response to the news. The comment was liked more than 22,000 times.
The attack on four women dining at a restaurant in Tangshan, the coastal city east of Beijing, early on Friday morning was captured in surveillance footage shared widely on Weibo. By Sunday police had arrested nine people on suspicion of violent assault.
The public outcry over the case renewed a conversation about misogyny and mistreatment of women in China. Earlier this year, surfaced video of a woman who had been chained in a shack. The police investigation found she had been trafficked and sold as a bride.
The trial of Wu, a former member of the K-pop group EXO, was closed to the public to protect the victim’s privacy, state media said.
Wu was tried on charges of rape and the “crime of assembling a crowd to engage in sexual promiscuity”. It was not clear what allegations the charges were related to. Rape is punishable with 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 with up to five years in prison.
The verdict and any sentence were to be issued later, state media said.
Last year a teenager Wu accused of having sex with her while she was drunk. Wu denied all allegations of wrongdoing. The teenager then said seven other women had contacted her to say Wu seduced them with promises of jobs and other opportunities. She said some were under 18.