Beijing Tech Exec Jailed for Fondling Woman on Flight
The top executive of a Beijing-based tech company has been jailed for five days and subsequently resigned for allegedly groping the breast of a woman while she was sleeping in the airline seat next to him.
The victim, a woman surnamed Zhang, accused Galaxy S Chief Operating Officer Li Yuanjie of putting his hand down her shirt while she slept during a Hainan Airlines red-eye flight from Shenzhen to Beijing January 3.
Like many other victims of sexual harassment, Zhang had to fight to be taken seriously.
An initial investigation by airport police resulted in Li's release after no witnesses could be found. Unsatisfied, Zhang took her story public on the Weibo micro-blogging platform, attracting a lot of attention.
Li responded by calling the accusations "groundless" and described Zhang as a "self-promoter" who wanted online fame.
The counter-accusation was buoyed by those that discovered Zhang has an online following of 130,000 fans, as well as her own live streaming channel.
Despite the public scrutiny over her character, Zhang's tactic of going public proved to be successful as justice soon caught up with Li.
On Thursday, Li publicly stated that he has quit his job at Galaxy S so that the scandal would not impact his professional life.
And on Sunday Li was sentenced to five days of administrative detention, a fact confirmed by the Beijing Airport Police.
Administrative detention is a punishment that public security bureaus in China can impose without a trial. The detentions often range between five to 10 days and are usually associated with misdemeanors like fighting or public incivility.
Unfortunately for him, Li's fall grace wasn't over. On Sunday, Li's own company turned against him. On their official Weibo account, Galaxy S apologized to the victim and chastised Li, whom they "resent and denounce for his illegal behavior and for attempting to conceal the facts from the public."
Among her Weibo posts, Zhang spoke out about the shame that victims of sexual crimes in violence must bear in China:
"I hope I can make my female friends understand that the only proper action to take after suffering this kind of harm is to stand up for your rights – and not suffer in silence," Zhang wrote. "Use the law to protect yourself! Vulnerable women do not have to suffer."
Li is not the only high-ranking Chinese executive to be involved in boorish public behavior recently.
Rumors that a high-ranking official with the Minsheng Bank had sexually molested a female subordinate were recently confirmed by 21st Century Economic Report. The paper reported a deputy general manager of a Beijing finance district branch named Guan has been suspended while undergoing an investigation for the incident.
And just this past November, a high-ranking Huawei executive stationed in Cambodia was arrested for drunk driving after causing an accident and fleeing the scene. However, The Cambodian Daily reported the story had disappeared from several Cambodian news outlets days afterwards.
Huawei deputy managing director Kevin Weng was released without charge, while his victims are said to have been properly compensated.
However, this doesn't alway mean that high-ranking Chinese executives are always held accountable for their actions.
In 2014, SOHO CEO Pan Shiyi was caught on video striking an Shenzhen Airline staffer during a confrontation at Shenzhen Airport. At first categorically denying he had struck the woman, Pan later apologized for his actions, saying that he "accidentally bumped" the airline worker.
Despite the public outcry, the incident was laid to rest after Shenzhen Airlines said in a statement that no such incident ever happened.
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