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The rise and fall of a Chinese language-Canadian pop star – Macleans.ca Categorical Occasions

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In November of 2018, the Chinese language-Canadian pop star Kris Wu was on the peak of his fame: younger, assured, unstoppable. That month, he launched his album Antares, and the document was a phenomenon, with seven songs touchdown on the American iTunes high 10. Standing six-foot-one, with Cupid’s-bow lips and a V-shaped face, he was often known as a Xiao Xian Rou, which in Mandarin Chinese language means “little contemporary meat,” a slang time period describing the brand new era of younger male idols, revered for his or her delicate options and alabaster pores and skin. And he was greater than only a pop star: he landed movie roles enjoying romantic heartthrobs and historical motion heroes, and he hosted and produced China’s first TV rap competitors, The Rap of China, which drew 100 million viewers inside a number of hours of its debut and greater than a billion by the sixth episode. At Madame Tussauds in Shanghai, a wax duplicate of Wu stood with figures of Vladimir Putin and Nicole Kidman. Within the video for the track “November Rain,” Wu is decked out in a leather-based jacket and silver chains: “I’m a savage,” he sings in English. “I’m a superb man turned unhealthy man after I crossed the road.”

Wu’s bankability in China gave him a foot within the door to Hollywood. In 2017, he starred as Vin Diesel’s sidekick in a xXx film and dropped a monitor with Pharrell Williams. He later collaborated with Travis Scott and Jhené Aiko and performed NBA all-star movie star video games alongside Drake and Justin Bieber. He was unfathomably rich, with a group of 21 unique supercars and luxurious houses in Vancouver, Los Angeles and Shanghai. However Wu was main a secret double life, wielding his fame, appears to be like and standing to lure younger ladies for intercourse. He appeared to get away with it for years—till a collection of social media accusations introduced him down for good.

Within the mid-Nineteen Nineties, China loosened its emigration guidelines, permitting extra individuals overseas. On the similar time, British Columbia’s authorities launched insurance policies to draw mainland Chinese language immigrants. Between 1999 and 2009, Canada welcomed greater than 30,000 new individuals from China per yr, who comprised some 15 per cent of Canada’s whole annual immigrants. Kris Wu was one among them. He was born Li Jiaheng in November of 1990, within the province of Guangzhou on China’s southern coast. His dad and mom divorced when he was a toddler, and he subsequently had no contact along with his father, nor did he ever point out his dad to his buddies and classmates. In 2000, when he was 10, his mom, Stacey Wu Yu, moved them from Guangzhou to Vancouver. In Canada, Wu glided by Kevin Li, utilizing his father’s surname.

Wu landed within the metropolis at a time when being Chinese language was near-synonymous with wealth. Vancouver was a hub for China’s nouveau riche, individuals who had made their fortunes because the Chinese language economic system boomed and who longed for a extra steady life and Western training for his or her youngsters. However Wu and his mother weren’t wealthy, dwelling in a small Vancouver condominium.

As the one youngster of a single mom, Wu grew up rapidly. He noticed himself as his mother’s protector. As quickly as he turned 16, he acquired his licence to drive himself to high school and again; he didn’t need his mother to must take him. In highschool, he held a job as a server at an Asian karaoke parlour, partly to alleviate his mother’s monetary strain. “I didn’t wish to all the time must ask my mother for cash, like after I needed bubble tea,” he instructed a chat present host in 2016.

Stacey instilled conventional Chinese language values in her son that generally chafed towards his Western upbringing. She urged him to pursue sensible fields, like medication or regulation—however he needed to be a basketball star. He spent his teenage years watching Allen Iverson on the courtroom and downloading songs by Snoop Dogg, Jay-Z and Pharrell onto his MP3 participant.

Halfway by highschool, Wu transferred to Level Gray Secondary Faculty in Vancouver’s prosperous Kerrisdale neighbourhood. The varsity is thought for its well-known alumni—each Seth Rogen and Nathan Fielder went there—and a scholar inhabitants that drove as much as class in BMWs, Mercedes and Lexuses. At Level Gray, Wu befriended different Chinese language-Canadian college students and chatted with them in Mandarin. He wore his hair like his Chinese language classmates, retaining his bangs lengthy, overlaying one eye, and waxing his center half excessive. “He regarded and acted like a FOB, or fresh-off-the-boat, identical to the remainder of us,” says an ex-classmate of Wu’s, who had just lately immigrated from Taiwan. (He and different former buddies of Wu requested me to not identify them to guard their privateness.)

However one other facet of Wu quickly started to emerge. Generally he was a ride-or-die good friend, whereas at different instances he was useless and cocky, manipulating individuals for his personal achieve. Just a few months after his arrival, Wu started hanging out with guys in increased grades. He’d all the time considered himself as extra subtle than his friends, and these new social connections got here on the expense of his previous buddies. “He regarded down on us as if we weren’t cool sufficient for him,” a highschool good friend says. At one level, Wu befriended a gaggle of Chinese language college students as a result of he thought one of many women had a crush on him. He borrowed notes and copied her homework. “Should you have been not helpful, he would simply ignore you such as you have been by no means there,” his ex-friend says.

In 2008, Wu disappeared out of the blue from Level Gray. His classmates didn’t know the place he went or what occurred to him. Most wouldn’t see him once more till 2012, when he resurfaced in a music video not as Kevin Li, however as Kris Wu—
a newly minted Okay-pop idol.

(Photograph by Visible China Group by way of Getty Photos)

Wu got here of age as Korean pop, or Okay-pop, was sweeping the globe. The worldwide export of South Korean popular culture—often known as hallyu—grew to become the spine of the nation’s tender energy starting within the 2000s. In 2004, the Okay-pop business generated US$1.87 billion; by 2019, it was value US$12.3 billion.

When Wu left his Vancouver highschool, Okay-pop was simply starting to make waves within the world music scene. Massively in style bands like Massive Bang, Tremendous Junior and Ladies’ Era have been the ancestors of present mega-acts like BTS and Blackpink. The Okay-pop machine concocted the proper system for spawning viral hits, producing songs that have been heavy on repetition, catchy hooks and easy-to-copy dance strikes, with a number of traces of English sprinkled in. The Okay-pop machine additionally had one different essential ingredient: a battalion of younger, ready-made, so-called “idols” at its disposal.

Within the enterprise world, South Korea is thought for its chaebols: the mammoth, family-run conglomerates like Samsung, LG and Lotte that dominate Korean business. The Okay-pop world has chaebols of its personal. A handful of leisure businesses write the principles of the business and struggle for brand spanking new expertise. The so-called Massive 4 labels are SM Leisure, YG Leisure, JYP Leisure and HYBE, all of which run “idol” academies the place younger individuals aged 12 to 24 prepare in singing, dancing and rapping, all within the hopes of attaining Okay-pop stardom.

By the mid 2010s, Okay-pop homes had launched into a brand new technique: scouring the globe for non–South Korean expertise in a bid to increase their worldwide fanbases. Leisure corporations regarded for younger expertise in Asia—China, Taiwan, Thailand and Japan—in addition to in North America. Companies like SM held American Idol–like open auditions in massive cities around the globe to draw foreign-born recruits. On any given audition day, hundreds of younger individuals would line up for hours to get a minute in entrance of company judges. Canadian cities with massive Asian diaspora populations, like Vancouver and Toronto, have been particularly ripe for recruitment in North America. Henry Lau, as an illustration, a Canadian of Chinese language heritage, auditioned for SM on a whim in Toronto in 2006. He was provided a contract after delivering a efficiency of Vivaldi on violin that integrated popping dance strikes.

In 2007, when Wu was simply shy of 17, he accompanied a good friend to SM’s world auditions in Vancouver. Wu handed the Vancouver tryouts, then made it by a number of subsequent rounds. Ultimately, he was provided an idol coaching contract in South Korea’s capital. Okay-pop coaching contracts sometimes final from two to 4 years, throughout which would-be idols obtain lodging and intensive coaching in singing, dancing, performing and rapping, all within the hopes of being chosen to kind a part of a pre-fab Okay-pop group.

Within the winter of 2007, Wu and his mother visited Seoul to tour the SM buildings the place its idols skilled. On that journey, he additionally met his fellow trainees. They didn’t see or hear from him for eight months after that. Then, in the summertime of 2008, Wu returned to SM headquarters as a brand new individual: he sported a brand new haircut, his chin regarded shorter, his jaw not protruded and his cheeks appeared subtly fuller in all the correct locations. One supply I spoke to, who skilled with Wu in Seoul, alleged that SM paid for his cosmetic surgery after which shuttled him again to Canada to get well for eight months. “The much less uncovered he was because the previous Kris, the higher it was for the company,” the supply mentioned.

Throughout his coaching with SM, Wu lived with dozens of fellows, aged 17 to twenty, in shared dorm rooms. The constructing was subsequent door to SM headquarters in Gangnam, the fashionable neighbourhood in Seoul. On an everyday weekday, trainees took efficiency courses, in addition to finding out the right methods to talk in public—all the abilities required to turn into an idol. Kevin Shin was Wu’s fellow trainee and finest good friend throughout this time. He says they skilled from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days every week. Trainees’ days didn’t finish with their classes: they have been anticipated to maintain up with their college work and practise what they’d realized at school of their downtime.

Many former idols allege that SM monitored trainees’ diets carefully and pressured the kids to remain under a sure weight. Shin, who was naturally skinny, had free rein to eat no matter he appreciated. Different youngsters would solely eat boiled eggs and drink water. The coaching was tough however, as Shin says, “it was sort of self-inflicted.” He explains: “We signed on the dotted line to turn into a Okay-pop star. You gotta put within the work, proper?” Wu, in the meantime, discovered the coaching schedule gruelling. “Each single day, we have been going to work. We lived in the identical dorm, went to the corporate to coach, then went again to sleep. I did that for 4 years straight,” he has mentioned.

Okay-pop corporations govern how their stars look, act and gown—some even have “no courting” clauses of their contracts. SM, generally known as “Slave Grasp Leisure,” is infamous for its strict coaching regimes. A number of former idols have launched lawsuits towards SM through the years, the newest being a joint effort from three members of the Okay-pop group EXO, who terminated their contracts with SM in June of this yr and alleged that the corporate owed them cost. Their lawyer claimed that SM coerced the artists into so-called “slave contracts” that lasted greater than 20 years. SM responded, denying the allegations and suggesting that the artists had been influenced by “exterior forces.” It promised to pursue authorized motion towards these events, though the 2 sides rapidly settled later that month. (SM didn’t reply to requests for remark for this story.)

For Shin and Wu, probably the most tough features of the coaching program was not figuring out once they would debut as an idol. Shin was so pissed off he give up SM in 2010 after three and a half years as a trainee: “I didn’t wish to be there anymore. I didn’t wish to dance. I needed to hitch a hip-hop label and to write down my very own music.” Wu, he says, felt the identical however finally stayed on as a result of he didn’t wish to take possibilities with one other label.

His persistence paid off. In February of 2012, after 4 years of coaching, SM handpicked the 21-year-old Wu to debut as the latest member of EXO and EXO-M, the Chinese language subgroup of the principle band. SM had a watch on China’s billion-strong market: it marketed EXO as a multicultural boy band that would join with followers in Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean and English. Its debut album, launched in 2013, offered over 1,000,000 copies. Wu was on the centre of all of it: the company had anointed him as EXO-M’s predominant rapper and vocalist, they usually’d formally modified his identify to Kris Wu. Quickly, his followers began calling him “Galaxy Hyung”—hyung, which suggests older brother in Korean, referred to his perceived maturity, whereas followers thought his appears to be like and trend sense have been “out of this galaxy.”

In a transfer that shocked the Okay-pop world, Wu left EXO in Could 2014, two years after his debut and simply because the band was exploding in reputation. He launched a lawsuit towards SM, citing inventive and cultural variations, in addition to well being issues attributable to the band’s intense touring schedule. Wu claims that he developed myocarditis, an irritation of the center leading to fatigue, shortness of breath and chest ache. (SM later filed a countersuit alleging breach of contract, and the events settled in 2016.) Wu had grown uninterested in his lack of inventive freedom in South Korea, and he used the lawsuit as his exit ramp. If he minimize ties with SM, he may soar ship to China—and make rather more cash.

Three men stand on a basketball court

(Photograph by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)

If South Korea was Wu’s coaching floor, China was the launchpad that catapulted him into near-global stardom. When he arrived in China in 2014, he was a ready-made movie star with an enormous fanbase. He was Okay-pop sufficient to enchantment to Korean followers, Chinese language sufficient to construct a Chinese language base, and Western sufficient to attract in diaspora audiences. His timing was impeccable: on the time, Hollywood studios have been in search of Chinese language financiers and a slice of China’s market, and they also pursued Chinese language stars for components of their blockbusters. Early on, Wu allegedly related with Qi Jianhong, a outstanding billionaire and the chairman of movie studio Yaolai Movie and Tv. Qi purportedly served as Wu’s “patron”—a rich and well-connected particular person who may again him in leisure and political circles.

Wu’s first movie function in China was a melodrama known as Someplace Solely We Know. It topped the field workplace throughout its opening weekend, raking in almost US$40 million and elevating Wu’s visibility. In 2015—Wu’s second yr in China—the China Worldwide Movie Pageant named him the perfect rising actor of the yr, and Esquire China topped him newcomer of the yr. Leisure insiders have been quickly introducing Wu to famed movie administrators equivalent to Hong Kong legend Stephen Chow, with whom he collaborated on two motion pictures. In 2016, Wu signed with Jackie Chan’s company.

The identical yr, Wu and Little G Na (often known as Xiao Gna in China), a then-19-year-old Chinese language-Canadian influencer, started a relationship; he even flew her to Toronto for a rendezvous. However, in accordance with Kevin Shin, Wu by no means considered G Na as his girlfriend. “He was chatting with a number of women on the similar time,” Shin says.

After their Toronto rendezvous and months of texting, Wu ghosted G Na, and he or she flew from China to Toronto to search out him. When she couldn’t, she publicly accused him of dumping her on the Chinese language social media platform Weibo. “On a regular basis, I’d examine my telephone and wait to your message, however you’ve disappeared,” she wrote. “Even if you wish to break up, say one thing.”

G Na subsequently posted their chat histories on social media. She hoped it might lead Wu to contact her once more. However Wu’s handlers denied all the things, and the scandal bounced proper off him. Wu’s hardcore followers and trolls attacked G Na on-line, whereas Jackie Chan supported Wu and publicly dismissed the scandal. He appeared assured that the drama would quickly blow over.

Wu allegedly held events the place he’d pick women who caught his eye, then ask his assistants to ask them to his resort on the pretense

Chan was proper: the general public quickly forgot about Wu’s alleged transgressions. Over the subsequent few years, he cemented his star standing in China, changing into the primary non-British model ambassador for Burberry and showing on the quilt of Vogue China with Kendall Jenner. As host of The Rap of China, followers turned Wu’s trademark sayings from the present—“do you even freestyle?” and “skr-skr”—into viral memes.

His subsequent objective was to overcome the Western music scene. Wu rapped “I’m the Yeezus of the East” in a monitor with YouTube-famous musicians Joji and Wealthy Brian. In late 2017, Wu grew to become the first-ever Chinese language-born artist to hit primary on the U.S. iTunes chart for his single “Deserve” with Travis Scott. The Western leisure hype machine was there to construct him up. In response to Billboard, “Wu has expertise and potential to actually be a power within the recreation,” and Vice mentioned that he was on the “precipice of Western crossover success.” He finally amassed greater than 66 million followers on Weibo and on Douyin, the Chinese language model of TikTok. He scored sponsorship offers from manufacturers like Porsche, Bulgari and Louis Vuitton. He reportedly charged the equal of round $400,000 per business and a minimum of $2 million for model ambassador positions. By 2017, Wu’s annual earnings had ballooned to US$23 million, touchdown him in tenth place on Forbes’ China Superstar Listing.

Wu’s mother managed his corporations, contracts and funds. On the Li Jing speak present, Wu mentioned she offered him with a “small allowance.” And but Wu nonetheless managed to amass a group of multi-million-dollar houses in Beijing, Vancouver and Los Angeles. His assortment of supercars included a metallic gold Ferrari 488 GT and a minimum of three Mercedes-Benzes.

Wu’s web presence was meticulously crafted to domesticate a picture of a humble mama’s boy with a rapper’s swagger: he typically visited Vancouver, the place he was noticed consuming jianbing— Chinese language crepes—and enjoying pickup basketball. The majority of Wu’s followers have been based mostly in China, Southeast Asia and the Center East. They constructed webpages and social accounts devoted to his skilled and private life; they religiously watched his music movies and vlogs, and even banded collectively—apparently bypassing China’s strict web firewalls—to obtain his songs and enhance his numbers on U.S. charts. One Weibo fan account with half 1,000,000 followers urged his fandom to “purchase purchase purchase on iTunes with out stopping. We now have 48 hours to get Kris to the highest of U.S. iTunes . . . an important factor on this planet is to get to the highest of the charts!” Offline, the followers thronged airports when Wu touched down in any metropolis. At fan meet-and-greets, they requested questions normally reserved for doting mothers: “Did you eat dinner but? Do you want your new coiffure? Do you are feeling completely happy now that you simply’ve completed filming?”

However Wu’s healthful picture hid a lurid darkish facet. In December of 2020, Du Meizhu, an 18-year-old performing scholar on the Communication College of China in Beijing, acquired a textual content on her telephone. The message was from Wu’s feminine assistant, inviting Du to a celebration at Wu’s mansion in Beijing’s rich Chaoyang district. Wu’s staff was casting women for his upcoming music video, his assistant mentioned. When Du entered the home, she later alleged, her telephone was taken away and Wu and different partygoers pressured her to drink. Wu’s assistant discovered Du hiding out within the lavatory, secretly utilizing her telephone. The assistant allegedly instructed her that she needed to have a superb time or Wu would get offended. “I drank international wine and cocktails, blended. I didn’t dare to withstand. It didn’t take lengthy for me to fall unconscious,” Du later mentioned.

The best way Du tells it, she awakened the next morning in Wu’s mattress. She claims they’d intercourse the earlier night time and that Wu didn’t put on a condom. When Wu awakened, she says, he instructed her that he was now liable for her well-being and would care for her for the remainder of her life. Du stayed for brunch at Wu’s house that day and says he indicated that he needed to pursue a real relationship together with her. “Sister, I’m in a relationship now with Wu Yifan,” she wrote to her good friend Liu Meili on WeChat, utilizing Wu’s Chinese language identify. “I swear I’m not mendacity to you.” Three days after the social gathering, Du says Wu transferred her 32,000 yuan (round $6,000) for buying—a tactic his buddies say he used to manage romantic relationships and achieve women’ belief.

Their relationship developed over the subsequent few months on WeChat and occasional meet-ups. Wu promised to take Du to fulfill his mother throughout Chinese language New 12 months in February of 2021. She thought he appeared honest.“He was the perfect actor on this planet that day,” Du mentioned. Even after what had transpired at Wu’s social gathering, she was captivated by what she described because the “harmless gaze that softened our hearts.” However Wu’s infatuation with Du appeared to finish as swiftly because it had began. After 4 months of speaking and hanging out, he ghosted Du. The subsequent month, Chinese language media revealed photographs of Wu leaving a film theatre with an 18-year-old mannequin.

Du felt gutted and betrayed. And so, motivated by revenge or justice or each, she unleashed a torrent of accusations towards Wu. In July of 2021, she publicly posted on Weibo with an account of what she says actually occurred the primary night time she met him: he had allegedly raped her after she drank an excessive amount of on the social gathering and went unconscious. “You really liked a whole lot of women on the similar time, however I used to be simply one among them.” She mentioned Wu, who was 30, had a penchant for younger women. “I’ve realized that your necessities are ladies born within the 2000s and underage women who’re getting ready for his or her gaokao.” (Gaokao are college entrance exams.) A good friend who knew Wu on the time confirmed his curiosity in teenage women, telling me that he’d as soon as had a highschool–aged girlfriend when he was in his late 20s.

Du described how Wu used middlemen to obtain women for his pleasure. He would lay women’ photographs laid out on a desk and “choose them like merchandise,” she wrote on Weibo. He allegedly held events in Shanghai and Los Angeles the place he’d pick women who caught his eye, then ask his assistants or middlemen to ask them to his resort on the pretense of a fan meet-up or job alternatives within the leisure business. Wu’s former good friend corroborated these allegations, telling me that Wu labored with a man who was “basically a pimp.” His job was to search out appropriate women and convey them to events for Wu.

Du’s submit launched a mini #MeToo motion towards Wu. Her unique submit clocked tens of millions of Weibo views, and within the days that adopted, she says, eight ladies instructed her about their encounters with Wu. Du mentioned that two of the ladies who talked to her have been beneath 18. A few days after her submit, Du performed interviews with main Chinese language media platforms like Tencent, repeating her claims and her want for justice for all of the women and girls affected. “You might be stunning on the skin, however in truth, rotten on the within,” Du wrote to Wu on Weibo.

Two men stand in front of a sign for a movie

(Photograph by Emmanuel Wong/Getty Photos for Paramount Footage)

In July of 2021, Wu’s mom, Stacey, filed a police report claiming that Du Meizhu was blackmailing her and her son for 3 million yuan (about $550,000), and that she’d already wired 500,000 yuan (round $100,000) to a checking account belonging to Du. The Beijing police later launched a primary assertion: the individual extorting Stacey wasn’t Du Meizhu, however a 23-year-old fraudster who had impersonated Du on-line to swindle cash from Wu’s mother.

The false report kicked off an official investigation. The police in Beijing corroborated Du’s story that she and Wu met in December of 2020, had intercourse and saved in contact by way of WeChat till April of 2021. They mentioned they have been investigating Wu for his alleged misdeeds—however in addition they accused Du of hyping up her story to realize “web fame.” They weren’t the one ones to accuse her of exploiting her reference to Wu for private achieve: two of her former buddies later alleged Du was extorting Wu for cash from the start. (I tried to achieve each Kris Wu and Du Meizhu a number of instances for this story however didn’t obtain a response from both of them.)

The police accusation towards Du solely galvanized her supporters, producing a swift and forceful backlash. One submit, which acquired over 100,000 likes and shares, mentioned: “If Du is sensationalizing her story to turn into well-known, I assist it, so the entire world will find out about Wu’s alleged crimes.” The hashtag #GirlsHelpGirls went viral on Chinese language social media, with over 11 million mentions by mid-July.

In China, many ladies are reluctant to report sexual harassment as a result of the justice system locations a disproportionate burden of proof on the accusers: between 2018 and 2020, solely six ladies filed sexual harassment circumstances towards their harassers in Chinese language courts, in accordance with analysis from Yale Regulation Faculty. Yaqiu Wang, the senior China researcher at Human Rights Watch, says that Chinese language ladies flip to the web to get the federal government to hear in a system that always reductions feminine victims of sexual assault. In China, the place the authorized system is opaque and the free press is non-existent, social media has turn into a spot the place victims can publicize their circumstances.

On July 19, 2021, Wu posted on Weibo. He refuted all of the allegations levied towards him: “I by no means chosen concubines or date-raped anybody,” he wrote. “There have been no underage women. If any proof of this have been to be discovered, please be assured that I’d enter jail alone accord.”

The accusations towards Wu befell towards the backdrop of a sweeping Chinese language authorities marketing campaign designed to wash up what it deems to be poisonous behaviour within the personal sector, particularly focusing on the leisure business, tech and training sectors. By 2021, when Wu’s transgressions got here to mild, the state was changing into more and more insecure about its world picture amid the COVID pandemic and worsening Sino-U.S. relations. Starting that yr, it launched into a brand new marketing campaign to manage the nation’s popular culture panorama. A ban was issued on rankings of celebrities by reputation in an try to manage on-line fandoms. TV reveals have been banned from that includes so-called “sissy” entertainers. Celebrities and influencers have been prohibited from selling values the state deemed immoral and hedonistic—issues like infidelity, drug tradition and even ostentatious shows of wealth on social media. In the meantime, stars who the social gathering disapproved of typically vanished from public sight altogether.

In response to Dan Chen, a professor of political science on the College of Richmond, the authorities’ efforts to assist state-sanctioned celebrities who promoted the social gathering’s values have been a bid to manage the leisure world and declare its ethical authority over its residents’ values. The federal government was cracking down onerous on what it known as “immoral, unhealthy and devil-possessed” fan tradition. “The chaos in movie star fan golf equipment, uncovered by the Kris Wu incident, displays that unhealthy fan tradition has reached a important second that have to be corrected,” China’s web regulator mentioned on the time.

The Chinese language state finally sided with Wu’s accusers. The state broadcaster, CCTV, described Wu’s actions as “not leisure gossip, however a significant authorized case of serious influence and a public concern.” Just a few days after Wu’s Weibo submit denying Du’s claims, the Chinese language authorities formally arrested him on suspicion of rape. The police confirmed that they have been investigating him for “repeatedly luring younger ladies” to have intercourse with him.

Wu grew to become a Chinese language famous person inside a number of months; his downfall solely took a day. Inside 24 hours of Wu’s arrest, all traces of the fallen star had been scrubbed from the Chinese language web. His music disappeared from streaming platforms. Social media corporations deleted his accounts. Studios stopped selling his movies. Specialists say that the federal government probably ordered these entities to expunge his presence. His model companions, together with Bulgari, Porsche and Louis Vuitton, rapidly minimize ties with him. Wu’s downfall could have lasting reverberations for China, symbolizing a brand new period of heavy-handed state interference within the personal lives and values of residents. “Wu’s case indicators to these within the leisure world that celebrities should be very cautious about what they are saying and really cautious about their public picture,” Chen says.

The nation’s authorized system is an unknowable black field, sealed off from any public scrutiny. In Chinese language courtroom, the conviction fee is 99.9 per cent. All defendants have the correct to rent a lawyer, however defence attorneys typically lack full entry to their purchasers and case supplies, hindering their capability to work on their circumstances; for instance, attorneys aren’t allowed to be current at their purchasers’ interrogations. Whether or not or not an individual will get a good trial largely relies on whether or not attorneys can collect proof and assemble a viable defence for his or her purchasers.

Final November, Wu went to trial on expenses of rape. The proceedings have been closed and all courtroom paperwork have been sealed, ostensibly to guard the privateness of the victims. Du testified, as did two ladies whose identities have been hid. On November 25, Wu was convicted on two expenses: first, of raping three ladies at his house between November and December of 2020, and second, for assembling a crowd for group intercourse. He was sentenced to 13 years in jail, after which he could be deported again to Canada. Two hours after the decision, the courtroom additionally ordered Wu pay a high quality that amounted to US$84 million for tax evasion and unpaid taxes. He appealed his conviction in July in a closed listening to; a call was nonetheless pending at press time.

Fame in 2023 is a tough factor: Wu, like so many different celebrities, had used social media to domesticate the phantasm of a private relationship along with his followers. Their sense of possession and connection buoyed him to cosmic fame. However, when the general public felt he’d betrayed them, they turned towards him. “We simply need a easy apology. Why is that so tough?” Du wrote in her Weibo submit.

This text seems in print within the October 2023 concern of Maclean’s journal. Subscribe to the month-to-month print journal right here.

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