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Rapper and former Vancouver resident Kris Wu sentenced to 13 years in Chinese prison

Kris Wu by GEM_Andy (GEM_brilliant) and Wikimedia Commons
Kris Wu spent his teenage years in Vancouver. GEM_Ady (GEM_brilliant)/Wikimedia Commons.

A Canadian singer, actor, and model will serve a lengthy jail term after being convicted of sex offences in China.

A judge in the Beijing Chaoyang District People’s Court sentenced Kris Wu, a.k.a. Wu Yi Fan, to 13 years for “rape” and “gathering a crowd for adultery”. Upon his release, Wu will be deported.

Canadian embassy officials attended the hearing on November 25, according to the state-owned Xinhua news agency.

Wu was born in Guangzhou, China. He moved to Vancouver with his mom around the age of 10 after his parents had divorced. The Daily Hive reported several years ago that he attended Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School in Vancouver.

In 2012, Wu became a member of the South Korean–Chinese boy band EXO. This came after he passed an audition with the Korean multinational talent agency SM Entertainment Co. Ltd. in Vancouver.

However, Wu left the band in 2014, becoming a solo artist. The next year, he debuted as an actor in the Chinese film Somewhere Only We Know, which was a huge hit. As a result of becoming a big celebrity in China, Madame Tussauds unveiled a wax statue of him in its Shanghai museum.

His second film, Mr. Six, was also a box-office success in China. Wu followed that up with So Young 2: Never Gone.

In addition, he became a model in 2015 and he played on a celebrity Team Canada basketball team versus Team USA in 2016 as part of NBA All-Star Game events.

Drake coached the Canadian team, which included the stars of the Property Brothers TV show.

China’s legal system criticized

Xinhua recently reported that the singer and actor “took advantage of the opportunity of three drunken women who did not how how to resist or could not resist in his residence, and forcibly had sex with them”.

The Chinese news agency also reported that Wu and some associates had “organized two other women to engage in promiscuous activities after drinking”.

Meanwhile, Chinese media outlets have reported that two dozen women had made allegations against Wu.

A growing list of high-profile entertainers in China have gone to jail in recent years under Xi Jinping’s rule. Among them are Qian Feng, a TV presenter who was charged a week after Wu had been arrested in 2021.

The prosecution made similar allegations against him. A woman claimed over social media that Qian had raped her while drunk and unconscious.

Human rights groups have repeatedly condemned China’s legal system for not following the rule of law.

Amnesty International, for instance, notes on its website that Canadian national and former Abbotsford resident Robert Schellenberg “had his prison sentence increased to a death sentence during a one-day retrial”.

This occurred in the midst of a diplomatic dispute between Canada and China. Amnesty International also describes China as “the world’s leading executioner”.

“As in previous years, Amnesty International’s monitoring suggested that the death penalty was mostly used to punish murder and drug-related offences, out of the 46 offences for which it remained applicable,” the human rights group states.

“Among these were many non-violent acts that do not meet the threshold of the ‘most serious crimes’ under international law and standards,” Amnesty International continues. “Two Uyghur ex-government officials were sentenced to death in Xinjiang, where the death penalty was known to have been used secretively after grossly unfair proceedings in previous years.”

Mélanie Joly
Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly recently ramped up Canadian government rhetoric against China.

Sentence precedes Indo-Pacific strategy

The judge in Beijing sentenced Wu two days before the Canadian government announced a new Indo-Pacific strategy. It’s sharply critical of the Chinese government.

Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly revealed many months ago that this was coming. So far, Canadian media outlets have not linked Wu’s sentence to the Trudeau government’s more hardline approach to China.

“China’s assertive pursuit of its economic and security interests, advancement of unilateral claims, foreign interference and increasingly coercive treatment of other countries and economies have significant implications in the region, in Canada and around the world,” the strategy states.

The document describes China as “an increasingly disruptive global power” that has disregarded UN rulings on disputes in the South China Sea.

“We see China’s increasing reluctance to comply with the mandates of UN institutions, such as its efforts to block the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights’ report on the situation of Uyghurs in Xinjiang, China, from consideration by the UN Human Rights Council,” it adds.

“Canada has been compelled to adjust warnings to Canadians travelling to China, as well as to the business community, to account for the growing risk of arbitrary application of Chinese laws,” the document continues. “In short, behaviours and policies that erode the existing rules-based international order undermine Canadian interests, whether they come from countries that are big or small—but they are especially challenging when pursued by rising powers with divergent national values.”

Follow Charlie Smith on Twitter @charliesmithvcr. Follow Pancouver on Twitter @PancouverMedia.

Update

Since Pancouver published this article, people have been alleging over social media that Wu was framed by Chinese authorities. One Twitter user cited this video featuring someone who allegedly knew one of Wu’s alleged victims. It is also on a YouTube channel entitled “Justice for Kris Wu”.

Here’s another video circulating that also trumpets Wu’s innocence.

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Charlie Smith

Charlie Smith

Pancouver editor Charlie Smith has worked as a Vancouver journalist in print, radio, and television for more than three decades.

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We would like to acknowledge that we are gathered on the traditional and unceded territories of the Coast Salish peoples of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. With this acknowledgement, we thank the Indigenous peoples who still live on and care for this land.