Allegations that a well-connected corporate lawyer repeatedly raped a teenage girl he had guardianship over have generated outrage online after being reported by Chinese media last week. The now 18-year-old girl, using the pseudonym Xingxing, told Chinese media she was systematically raped by Bao Yuming for four years starting when she was 14. Bao was on the board of telecom giant ZTE and served as vice president of Jereh Group, an oil company in Yantai, but has since been dismissed from both positions. Javier C. Hernández reports for The New York Times:
At 14 years old, she was sent by her mother to live with a successful businessman in Beijing, who was supposed to serve as her caretaker and guardian. Instead, over the course of several years, she says, he repeatedly raped her and held her in his home against her will.
Now 18, the young woman, using the pseudonym Xingxing, has gone public with her account of abuse. Her story, published in the Chinese news media in recent days, has become one of the most widely discussed topics in China, unleashing a wave of anger about the country’s patriarchal culture and the authorities’ reluctance to intervene in cases of sexual abuse.
The episode has become a pivotal test for China’s small but spirited #MeToo movement, which has gained traction in recent years despite the ruling Communist Party’s strict limits on activism and its tight control over the courts.
[…] On Monday, as public anger grew amid reports that the police initially ignored Xingxing’s complaints, the central government in Beijing said it would investigate. A hashtag about the case on Weibo, a popular social media site in China, had been viewed more than 790 million times as of late Monday. [Source]
Zhang Wanqing at Sixth Tone has more on Xingxing’s legal case against Bao:
After Xingxing tried to kill herself, she was reunited with her mother. Together, they found a lawyer to represent them against Bao. In October 2019, the Yantai police, at the behest of the local prosecutor, finally accepted the case, and Xingxing submitted her evidence again, along with a photo of Bao’s phone that showed him seeking foster parent relationships with other children. Xingxing told South Reviews she and her mother haven’t received a single progress report from the police since then.
Revelations of the alleged abuse have gained enormous attention on Chinese social media, with a related hashtag on microblogging platform Weibo viewed over 900 million times by Friday evening.
Many online have accused the public security officials — especially those in Yantai — of dereliction of duty. Yantai police said late Thursday that they are still investigating the case.
Xingxing was reportedly diagnosed with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder after her three years with Bao, and a clinical examination in April 2019 found injuries to her shoulder, arms, and vagina. [Source]
The hashtag related to the case (鲍毓明回应性侵养女 or “Bao Yuming respond to the sexual assault of your adopted daughter”) has received almost 1.6 billion views as of the time of writing.
One way internet users have been expressing their feelings about this case is by leaving comments on the Weibo account of late doctor Li Wenliang, who died from COVID-19 after being punished by the government for sharing information about the virus before the government had officially acknowledged its severity. His Weibo page has become a memorial for the doctor–who in many netizens’ eyes became a martyr for free speech, honesty, and common decency–and a so-called “Digital Wailing Wall” where his fans post their heartfelt thoughts about the COVID-19 epidemic, Chinese society, and daily events in their personal lives. Following the news about Xingxing’s rape case, several posters turned again to Dr. Li for comfort. The following comments were posted on his Weibo page in recent days:
@稻草哒：Dr. Li, I’m a pediatrician, and could be considered a colleague of yours. During today’s night shift, around April 10, a beast in human form assaulted a little girl. The news went viral online. Now that you are in heaven, I wonder whether you still care about the miscellaneous events of this world. [Chinese]
@木有名字的柚子：Dr. Li, I just read about a foster father sexually assaulting his daughter. It made me sick. I also read that a college student abused stray cats. Below the apology he offered, there was a comment that he left previously that said: “none of your fucking business.” These people are disgusting. I can’t even find the right words to scold them. How can people be like this? [Chinese]
@柳觞儿：I believe that girl, like all children, should experience pure happiness at school and have a warm future ahead of her. As for me, besides speaking out on Weibo, I am only concerned about this case. I suddenly feel so powerless. Why is it that fairness and justice can only be attained through concern? After so much suffering, I really hope the world will get better, not just physically, but that the human heart will also improve. [Chinese]
@叛逆期小诗爷：Last night I saw the news that an executive had sexually assaulted his adopted daughter for several years. I was so angry I couldn’t sleep. Then I dreamed of you, I dreamed that you and the other doctors were still speaking up in defense of justice. It’s really scary to think that my child will soon be coming into a world like this. [Chinese]
Translation by an anonymous CDT translator.