Beijing — A Chinese court has thrown out a lawsuit brought by a woman who claims she was sexually harassed as an intern by a major television personality in the country, dealing a blow to athat has struggled to gain momentum in .
In a statement posted online, the Haidian People's Court in Beijing said it dismissed the case filed by former intern Zhou Xiaoxuan, who claimed she was sexually harassed in 2014 by talk show host Zhu Jun — a household name in China.
The court dismissed the case brought by Zhou, who's now 28, saying the evidence submitted by her legal team had failed to prove that any harassment occurred, Zhou told CBS News on Wednesday. She said she planned to appeal the decision.
Zhou first levelled the allegations against Zhu in a series of social media posts by herself and her friends in 2018, giving details of her alleged experience during an internship at state television network CCTV, where Zhu was her superior.
Zhou claimed that the celebrity interviewer, who's known for bringing stars to tears on his set, groped and forcibly kissed her.
The posts quickly went viral on Chinese social media sites, but they were soon taken down by government censors.
Weeks later, Zhu denied the accusations made by Zhou and filed a lawsuit against her in a Beijing court, claiming defamation. Zhou then filed her lawsuit against Zhu, formally alleging harassment. She is seeking a public apology and damages of 50,000 yuan ($7,600).
The first hearing in the case wasn't held until December 2020, behind closed doors.
The long-running, high-profile legal battle and the constant censorship of her social media content made Zhou a symbol of China's #MeToo movement.
But she and her supporters have seen their content quickly removed from Chinese social media platforms, and protests have been quickly broken up.
Several other harassment and rape cases have drawn attention to the issue of women's safety in China in recent months.
Chinese-Canadian singer Kris Wu was arrested in August by Beijing police on suspicion of rape, and a former manager with Chinese tech giant Alibaba was accused of rape by a co-worker. The former Alibaba executive was released after prosecutors declined to bring charges against him.
Another famous television host, with a station in central China, was also accused of rape last month.