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A former Alibaba executive has been detained in China on suspicion of sexual assault in a case that has sparked the country’s #MeToo movement against tech corporate culture as the industry faces wide-ranging regulatory crackdowns.
The scandal has re-examined China’s largest e-commerce company as authorities in recent weeks have made sweeping policy changes and regulatory interventions that wiped billions of dollars from the market caps of the country’s largest tech companies.
The alleged attacks took place at a work-related dinner last month and later at a hotel, according to a statement released by police on Saturday in Jinan, the capital of eastern China’s Shandong province.
According to the police statement, an Alibaba customer has also been arrested on suspicion of assaulting the woman.
A former Alibaba employee had accused her supervisor of sexually assaulting her after she was pressured to drink. She also accused Alibaba of initially failing to respond to her request for an investigation.
Alibaba, founded by billionaire Jack Ma, is struggling to contain the growing fallout from the case. The company announced last week that the manager had been fired, while CEO Daniel Zhang called the incident a “humiliation” and promised improvements to Alibaba’s corporate culture.
But increasingly outspoken tech workers, including at internet giant Tencent and other tech groups, have demanded bigger changes. Their complaints have shed light on the intense pressure on young workers to drink heavily at work events.
Alibaba did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Sunday.
The allegations against Alibaba have already led to corporate culture condemnation by the Chinese Communist Party’s anti-corruption watchdog, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection.
Those warnings also came against a wider background of increasing official attention to behavior considered inappropriate and harmful to Chinese society. Authorities last week announced a five-year plan to introduce a new legislative framework that would centralize the party’s control over strategic sectors, including technology and healthcare, and meet people’s ever-increasing demand for a good life. .
On Saturday, a comment published by China National Radio, a state broadcaster, called for further regulatory oversight of online gaming and urged authorities to show “zero tolerance” for titles that “willfully falsify history”. views”.
Under President Xi Jinping, who has touted China’s national rejuvenation as a crucial theme of his leadership, the handling of historical events has also become an increasingly sensitive topic.
State media commentary is being closely watched by tech companies and their shareholders after previous warnings terrified investors and sent stock prices plummeting.
Tencent, which gets nearly a third of its revenue from gaming, was forced to announce restrictions on how long minors can play its online games after a state newspaper labeled the gaming “spiritual opium” label.
China’s Ministry of Culture also flagged a crackdown on songs at karaoke venues last week that could spread “harmful information.”
Additional reporting by Emma Zhou in Beijing