China MeToo Charge: Female Staff Says Alibaba Failed to Respond to Sexual Assault Plaint

An executive at Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has been accused of sexual assault by a colleague. The company said on Sunday that it was cooperating with a police investigation into sexual assault allegations aired by a company employee.

The allegations were made by a female employee of Alibaba. An account by an Alibaba employee posted to the company's internal message boards on Friday evening alleged that an executive in the group's online grocery platform Taoxianda had sexually assaulted her on a business trip last month, according to Financial Times.

The Woman Was Forced to Drink Alcohol and Then Molested

The incident reportedly took place in a hotel room during a business trip to the city of Jinan in the eastern Shandong province.

According to the woman, on the evening of July 27, the client kissed her. After consuming alcohol, she woke up in a hotel room the following day with her clothes removed, reported Reuters.

The woman wrote that she was pressured into drinking at a company banquet and was then groped by a guest at the dinner before being sexually assaulted by the executive in her hotel room, according to Financial Times. "I lay on the bed unable to move. I was crying and he kept kissing and touching me," the employee wrote.


What's the Response of Alibaba?

The female employee also accused Alibaba of initially failing to respond to her request for an investigation. She said complaints made to Alibaba's human resources department were ignored.

A statement by Alibaba said the company also had suspended "relevant parties suspected of violating our policies and values," asserting that it had a "zero-tolerance policy against sexual misconduct."

In an internal post, Alibaba CEO Daniel Zhang said Sunday that he was "shocked, furious and ashamed" after learning about the case, according to Global Times. Zhang vowed to fully investigate the case and make the findings available to all Alibaba employees.

Jinan police also said that they were investigating the case that involved a female Alibaba employee, reports say.

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Alibaba Reuters

Another Blow to Alibaba's Image

This is another blow to the company's reputation after the regulators in April hit Alibaba with a record $2.78 billion fine over practices deemed to be an abuse of its dominant market position.

Alibaba, along with much of China's technology sector, is under intensifying scrutiny from the Chinese Communist party over everything from workplace culture and employee benefits to data security and antitrust violations. CCP is targeting its home-grown tech giants and tightening its grip over these companies.

Is the #MeToo Movement Becoming Prominent in China?

As soon as the news broke out, a hashtag for the allegation was among the top-viewed items on Chinese social media platform Weibo on Sunday.

China's #MeToo movement sparked by Chinese feminists has gained momentum since 2018. Accusations are made against several academics, a TV anchor and celebrities.

Recently, Chinese-Canadian pop star Kris Wu had been detained on suspicion of rape in response to relevant information reported on the internet including that he repeatedly lured young women to have sexual relations. Wu had been accused by a 19-year-old student of date-raping her when she was 17.