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.

More stories from this author here.

Images: Skyjia, China


This is so interesting. Basically the guy was sentenced for five days without a trial and subsequently fired by his company probably on public image concern. I wonder if he can request a trial under this circumstance to aquit himself. I feel sorry for the victim but I wonder how it is possible for us to know anything about what really happened without any legal proceeding or police report. 

Plus, he was brought to jail neither by the police nor by a court order. According to the story the woman made the accusation in the form of a weibo post, which was neither a legal complaint, nor a request made to the police, and the weibo post brought a man to jail. This is very interesting from a sociologic perspective. People are using the term "rule by weibo," which appears to be funny and satirical. However, a second thought of the term "rule by weibo" makes me think about the issue of different means of getting justice. In a society where the judiciary has very limited power and accessibility and the law enforcement is extremely corrupt, goofy and incompetent, social media has become a real resort for people to get justice. This also relates to the culture of "losing face" in China as well as the government's priority on "keeping the order" (维稳). Such a means of getting justice is so modern in light of the technology and information theory it embodies but so primordial in light of political, sociological and legal sciences. The "weibo" justice system embodies the very essential drawback of majoritarianism where a complaint was judged not based on facts but based on provocation of people's emotion, where an ancient society tries a suspect by the reaction of the people after someone giving a public speech at an assembly of the people. If the audience's reaction was "kill him!!!" then the guy is dead. If the audience's reaction was less fierce, then the guy was banished or something. Most peoples and societies have stopped doing that for centuries, instead using either the government/king, or courts of law to decide a case. In my opinion "Weibo" as a form of deterrance and a means of getting justice is basically a model next to anarchy but coated by the most advanced form of information techonology. 

I haven't found myself such capable of such aptly describing China for a while.

Maybe the police had access to proof that they withheld from the public, for example from cameras on the plane and that might also be why his company turned against him.

So this guy lost his job and was put under a short term house arrest with absolutely no proof? It's as likely this lady made up the story as it is he groped her.

Maybe both parties are in on this and now we all know what Galaxy S is (i thought it was a Samsung mobile phone). Its not like anyone will really care in the long run. Harassment is so ingrained I'll bet there are bros in the male-dominated tech sector who are lining up to high five the dude when he gets out for copping a feel

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You can tell from her clevage she wants the attention.

He should have paid her enough to worth her time.

Take it from this fuerdai, spend the money to get the tities.

I was confused why it didn't go to trial, but after reading into some Chinese laws it looks like sexual harassment cases will not go to trials in China! It is only considered a misdemeanor. The most severe punishment is a brief jail time placed by the administration which is already given to Li in this story. A bit shocked. Zhang Yang Yang, the victim, currently study at University of Queensland, seems to be a well connected individual, but she did use an anonymous ID (instead of her 144K followers live streaming ID) when she exposed Li's action online. While I was skeptical about her action initially, after some research I think her intention was to get Li arrested and in the the bigger picture, promoting women's rights.

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