Beijing police said Saturday night they have detained a 30-year-old Canadian man for suspected rape, with state media reporting it is Chinese Canadian pop star Kris Wu.
But Beijing has turned tough on the private-sector wealthy this year, and there were indications that authorities would scrutinize Wu’s case. State media commentators were harsh on him this month after a number of young women came forward with allegations of sexual assault — a departure from previous cases — and a string of brands canceled endorsement deals. Wu had denied any wrongdoing.
The official People’s Daily newspaper posted on its Weibo social media account late Saturday that Wu Yifan, Kris Wu’s Chinese name, had been detained. It also reposted a notice from the police in Beijing’s Chaoyang district that said a 30-year-old Canadian man surnamed Wu had been detained on suspicion of rape, after multiple women made allegations.
“Investigative work for the case is underway,” the police statement said.
Wu’s detention was among the top trending topics on Weibo on Saturday night.
Wu’s management company and attorney did not immediately respond to requests for comment from The Washington Post.
China-Canada relations also remain tense over the continued house arrest of Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou in Canada, as the United States seeks her extradition on charges of Iran sanctions violations, and Beijing’s detention of two Canadian nationals, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, among other retaliatory actions.
In an interview published earlier this month by Chinese media outlet NetEase, a young woman, Du Meizhu, accused Wu of luring her and other teenagers for sex. Du said when she was 17, the singer plied her with alcohol until she passed out.
Her allegations sparked a firestorm, with two dozen other young women also making allegations against Wu. In response, more than a dozen brands suspended or canceled their contracts with Wu, including French luxury brand Louis Vuitton, German automaker Porsche, French cosmetics label Lancôme, Chinese instant noodle brand Master Kong and Chinese video-streaming giant Tencent Video.
Wu has denied the allegations. China’s age of consent is 14.
“There were never any ‘minors’!” Wu wrote on the Weibo social media platform earlier this month. “If this kind of thing happened, please rest assured that I will go by myself to jail!! I will take legal responsibility for my words above!!”
Wu shot to fame as part of the South Korean Chinese boy band EXO, before leaving the group in 2014 for a solo career in China. He was born in China but holds Canadian citizenship.
The #MeToo movement has made limited headway in China until now, partly because of official discouragement, including arrests of feminist activists who staged protests.
But there were indications earlier this month that Beijing would not go easy on Wu’s case.
“Even though he’s a Canadian, China also has jurisdiction,” the state-run China News Weekly commented earlier this month.
Wealthy members of other Chinese business sectors have also been under elevated scrutiny this year, with Beijing regulators torpedoing the IPO plans of Alibaba’s financial services affiliate, and launching an investigation into Didi Chuxing, the country’s equivalent of Uber.