Chinese court rejects appeal in high-profile #MeToo case

BEIJING (AP) — A Chinese court rejected an appeal Wednesday from a woman seeking an apology and damages in a high-profile case from the country’s short-lived #MeToo movement.

The court in Beijing ruled after a closed-door hearing that evidence submitted by Zhou Xiaoxuan was insufficient to prove sexual harassment, upholding the initial judgment last September.

Zhou, a former intern at state broadcaster China Central Television, had accused CCTV host Zhu Jun of groping and forcibly kissing her in 2014. She reported the case to police in 2014 and went public about it in 2018, when other women began speaking out.

After flourishing briefly, the #MeToo movement was largely shut down. Activists found their online posts censored and faced pressure from authorities when trying to hold protests.

Police cordoned off the sidewalk outside the court building on Wednesday and told journalists not to film anything or gather, citing the COVID-19 pandemic.

Zhou brought the suit against Zhu to counter a suit he had lodged against her. She sought a public apology and 50,000 yuan ($7,600) in damages. Zhu has denied the allegations.

In a video she posted online a day ahead of Wednesday’s hearing, Zhou said she has no regrets that she pursued her case.

“I really hope that people don’t have to suffer in the future,” she said. “I hope things will be easier for the next victim who enters legal procedures.”

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