Richard Liu sues feminist blogger for defamation over her ‘rapist Dong’ Weibo posts

Society & Culture

Chinese billionaire and founder Richard Liu (刘强东 Liú Qiángdōng), who is the subject of a rape allegation made by Jingyao Liu, a 21-year-old Chinese student from the University of Minnesota, has filed a defamation lawsuit against Weibo user @马库斯说, claiming that the feminist blogger’s remarks about his alleged rape case and his ecommerce company had besmirched his reputation and made an extremely negative impact on Chinese society.

According to a court filing (in Chinese) mailed to the blogger about two weeks ago, Liu is seeking 2 million yuan for financial harm and 1 million yuan for mental damages. Liu also wants the blogger to delete all the Weibo posts that he deemed “false” or “insulting,” publish an apology on her Weibo account, and make it a pinned post for 30 days.

The lawsuit was filed in the Beijing Internet court on July 2, about three months after the alleged victim filed a civil lawsuit against Liu in April. The complaint took specific aim at a string of scandal-related Weibo posts written by @马库斯说 from October last year, when the news broke that Liu was arrested on suspicion of rape in Minneapolis, to May, when the dustup reached its zenith as legal teams behind the two parties were leaking evidence that worked to their own advantages.

richard liu zetian zhang

The first example included in the court document is a Weibo post published on October 14, 2018. Commenting on the photos of Liu and his wife, Zhāng Zétiān 章泽天, attending the wedding of a British royal family member not long after the rape claim, @马库斯说 wrote (in Chinese): “Three points that raised my eyebrows: First, why were they so rushed to make a public appearance together? Second, are ponytails the only hairstyle that rich men who come from a rural background like? And third, does rapist Dong have the balls to travel to America again?” (“Rapist Dong” shares two characters with Richard Liu’s name in Chinese — “to rape,” 强奸 qiángjiān, contains the second character of Liú Qiángdōng 刘强东, while “Dong” is the last character in Richard Liu’s name.)

Following the first post regarding Liu, @马库斯说 utilized her platform, which is dedicated to her opinions about feminist topics and has more than 140,000 followers, to comment on the case’s progress from time to time. In a recent post (in Chinese), the blogger said that “rapist Dong” had done nothing to deserve people’s empathy. “He thought his wealth entitled him to rape anyone. He’s not illiterate. He graduated from Renmin University of China. He actively chose to become a person like this,” she lambasted.

In addition to her remarks about Liu’s alleged sexual assault, in which @马库斯说 called Liu “shameless,” “arrogant,” and “predatory,” the blogger also fired shots at Liu’s management of his company, saying that the billionaire didn’t create any actual value or make any contribution to society. “ did create some job opportunities and gave back to Liu’s hometown. But these were all achieved by investors’ money,” she wrote.

Apparently, these negative comments directed at Liu made him so irritated that he decided to take legal action against @马库斯说. “In the course of 6 months, the defendant published more than 10 posts that insulted and defamed Liu. These offensive remarks widely circulated on Weibo and incited intense attack, condemnation, and even boycott against Liu,” Liu’s legal team wrote in the filing. “The intention is clearly malicious.”

In response to Liu’s claims, the blogger said today that she had hired a lawyer to confront Liu in court. “It seems he wants everyone who supports Jingyao to shut their mouths,” @马库斯说 wrote (in Chinese), adding that she had no regrets about her previous remarks. “I have made my decision to respond and fight this battle.”