Hailing the Status Quo

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A Chinese appeals court dismissed a landmark case over sexual-harassment allegations by a woman against a famous TV host, a ruling that dealt a major blow to China’s embattled #MeToo movement, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The case began in 2018 when Zhou Xiaoxuan accused Zhu Jun, a prominent television presenter, of sexually harassing her when she was interning at state broadcaster China Central Television in 2014.

Zhu denied the allegations and countersued Zhou for defamation.

Last year, a lower court rejected the case because of a lack of evidence. On Wednesday, the appeals court upheld the ruling, saying the evidence was “insufficient.”

Zhou said that is uncertain whether she will appeal. However, she said she hoped the proceedings would raise awareness about sexual misconduct and give judges more insight into the difficulties Chinese women face in pressing these claims.

Zhou’s accusations were a catalyst for the then-fledging #MeToo movement in China, a country where sexual-harassment cases face a high burden of proof, and women who make such allegations usually face counter defamation suits from the accused.

Allegations of sexual misconduct have become extremely sensitive in the Asian country, especially after tennis star Peng Shuai openly described a relationship with former Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli, a relationship that she described as at times coerced.

After disappearing from public view following the accusations, Peng later claimed that she had never accused anyone of sexual assault and that “there’s been a lot of misunderstanding.”

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