China's MeToo Movement Gains Force as State TV Anchor Is Accused

(Bloomberg) -- China’s nascent MeToo movement is gaining momentum with allegations of sexual harassment levied against a well-known host of programming for the nation’s state television broadcaster.

The allegations, made in an anonymous letter published July 25, are targeted at Zhu Jun, who has hosted shows for China Central Television for more than two decades. In the letter, the woman accuses Zhu of harassing her when she was an intern at the broadcaster in 2014.

In addition to having had his own show on CCTV until recently, Zhu’s resume includes co-hosting several editions of the network’s gala celebrating Chinese New Year, by far the country’s most watched broadcast annually.

Word of the allegations spread initially despite users of the Weibo and WeChat social-networking services being unable to share posts about the woman’s letter, a phenomenon often seen as a sign that authorities seek to limit dissemination of the information. Then over the weekend, in an unexplained change, users began being able to share information about the accusation.

China’s MeToo movement first came to prominence in January when allegations against a professor at the Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics were published on social media. Since then, a number of allegations have been made against academics, environmentalists and journalists.

In the U.S., where the MeToo movement started, many powerful men in media and entertainment have lost their jobs over the past year over allegations of sexual misconduct, including movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, Pixar animation boss John Lasseter and broadcaster Charlie Rose.

In the past few days, after an article was published in the New Yorker, sexual misconduct allegations have been leveled at CBS Corp. chairman and chief executive officer Leslie Moonves.

Calls to Zhu’s mobile phone went unanswered. Attempts to contact the producers of his show that ended last year failed to secure a response, as did efforts seeking comment from CCTV. The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Caixin, which published articles about the allegations, also reported not being able to contact Zhu. Caixin’s article, which first appeared on Friday afternoon, was later removed from its website.

A Weibo Corp. spokesperson declined to comment on the ability of users to share information about the allegations against Zhu. A representative for Tencent Holding Ltd., which operates the WeChat service, didn’t immediately respond to inquiries.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.