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People’s Daily encourages more ‘silence breakers’ in nod to #MeToo movement

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A quasi-official response to the burgeoning #MeToo movement in China has finally arrived. In response to Beihang University’s decision to remove Professor Chen Xiaowu 陈小武 from his position after sexual harassment allegations from four women, on January 12, the Communist Party’s house newspaper, the People’s Daily, posted a brief comment (in Chinese) to its Weibo social media account: “We applaud Beihang for not hiding evil nor covering up the crimes. We have zero tolerance for teachers who violate professional ethics.”

The newspaper praised the school as a role model for other institutions in China. “Break the silence,” the author writes. “When more and more victims come forward and say ‘Me Too,’ we’ll see more abusive teachers be exposed and fewer cases of sexual harassment on Chinese college campuses.”

The global hashtag campaign #MeToo, which began in October 2017, inspired by the women who spoke out about Harvey Weinstein’s predatory behavior, has only just started to gather steam in China. Earlier this month, Luo Qianqian 罗茜茜, a former student at Beihang University, stood out to accuse Chen of sexual harassment and called for more victims on college campuses to tell their stories. Luo’s bravery prompted a wave of women across the country to join the movement, including the well-known women’s rights activist Xiao Meili 肖美丽, who wrote an open letter to her alma mater, the Communication University of China, proposing a system to prevent on-campus sexual harassment.

However, it remains to be seen if official support will go much beyond a tweet-length statement of support — the Chinese government has a record of aggressively cracking down on feminist organizing and censoring public discussions about sexual harassment and gender equality.

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Yammie Lam, a former Hong Kong actress who left the world of show business in 2004, returned to public attention on January 10 after an old video surfaced online of her accusing two big names in Hong Kong’s entertainment industry, Eric Tsang and Alan Tang, of raping her more than 20 years ago.

One of China’s most prominent women’s rights activists, Xiao Meili 肖美丽, pushes the #MeToo conversation forward: “It’s imperative that Chinese colleges construct a mechanism to prevent sexual harassment on campus.”

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—Jiayun Feng


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Jiayun Feng

Jiayun was born in Shanghai, where she spent her first 20 years and earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism at Fudan University. Interested in writing for a global audience, she attended the NYU Graduate School of Journalism for its Global & Joint Program Studies, which allowed her to pursue a journalism career along with her interest in international relations. She has previously interned for Sixth Tone and Shanghai Daily.