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Alibaba rape allegation piles pressure on Chinese tech company – Financial Times

Alibaba updates

An employee at Chinese online retailer Alibaba has accused her supervisor of sexual assault, dealing another blow to the company’s reputation during a regulatory crackdown on the country’s technology groups.

An account by an Alibaba employee posted to the company’s internal message boards late on Friday evening alleged that her supervisor in the group’s online grocery platform Taoxianda had sexually assaulted her on a business trip last month.

The woman wrote that she was pressured into drinking at a company banquet and was then groped by a guest at the dinner before being sexually assaulted by the supervisor in her hotel room.

Security camera footage showed that the supervisor came to her room four times, according to the account. “I lay on the bed unable to move. I was crying and he kept kissing and touching me,” she wrote. 

She also accused Alibaba of initially failing to respond to her request for an investigation. 

On Sunday, an explosion of anger over the allegations flooded social media with accusations that Alibaba was failing to protect female employees from inappropriate advances and sexual harassment by male colleagues.

Zhang Yong, Alibaba’s chief executive, said on Sunday in a statement to employees that he felt “shocked, angry and ashamed” on hearing about the incident. He promised that the results of an internal investigation would be shared with all Alibaba staff.

Police in Jinan, the eastern Chinese city where the incident allegedly took place, said that they had launched an investigation. The supervisor did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

Alibaba, along with much of China’s technology sector, is under intensifying scrutiny from the Chinese Communist party over everything from workplace culture and employee benefits to data security and antitrust violations. 

Jack Ma, Alibaba’s high-profile founder, has all but disappeared from public view since late 2020, when Xi Jinping, the Chinese president, suddenly intervened to cancel the blockbuster public offering of Ant Group, Ma’s payments and lending business. 

Alibaba said the supervisor had been suspended. The company did not tolerate sexual misconduct and had set up an internal team to aid a police investigation, it said.

The Alibaba scandal erupted days after Beijing police announced that they had detained Kris Wu, a pop star and Canadian citizen, on suspicion of rape after multiple women accused him online of sexual misconduct.

The two high-profile cases have spurred China’s #MeToo movement, which has gathered momentum in recent years despite online censorship amid government concerns of feminist activism.