Magazine withdraws top Chinese women list featuring Li Jinglei and Du Meizhu after backlash

Li Jinglei (left) and Du Meizhu's inclusion on New Weekly's 2021 Top 10 Chinese Women angered netizens.
PHOTO: Instagram/Li Jinglei, Weibo

When do we celebrate women for speaking out against toxic male behaviours and when do we not?

That seems to be the question of the day after New Weekly, a Chinese culture magazine, pulled their 2021 list of Top 10 Chinese Women after backlash from netizens.

And, what ruffled their feathers was reportedly the fact that the publication included Wang Leehom's ex-wife Li Jinglei and influencer Du Meizhu on the list.

Jinglei, 35, made headlines after a high-profile online spat with her former singer husband where she alleged, in a nine-page post, that he was unfaithful, solicited prostitutes and verbally bullied her during their marriage.

As for 19-year-old Meizhu, she was in the news after accusing Chinese-Canadian pop idol Kris Wu of having sex with her while she was unconscious. She also alleged that Kris would lure underage girls with acting and singing opportunities.

Following her accusations, Kris, 31, was detained by police on suspicion of rape and has been behind bars since July 2021. 

New Weekly wrote that the two women may not be "perfect victims" but their actions sparked off a series of discourse in society and shed light on issues like gaslighting.

However, to netizens, their 'achievements' aren't comparable to other formidable women on the list, like Chinese astronaut Wang Yaping (the first woman to walk in space) and educator Zhang Guimei. The latter is the founder and principal of the first and only free high school for girls in China.

On Weibo, the comments are overwhelmingly against the inclusion of Jinglei and Meizhu, with one comment that read: "This stinks! What do they have to compete against Wang Yaping and Zhang Guimei?"


With the #MeToo and Time's Up movements becoming a global phenomenon, it's logical to assume that one might feel Jinglei and Meizhu's actions are worthy of being celebrated.

After all, Time magazine even named The Silence Breakers as the 2017 Person of the Year, honouring all of the women involved in the #MeToo movement.

The global movement reached China in 2018 when there was a wave of women who alleged that university professors sexually harassed them.

However, in November 2021, AFP reported that the movement has been stifled by legal hurdles and censorship — social media hashtags and keywords, including #MeToo, have been blocked.

That same month, Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai claimed that a former vice-premier Zhang Gaoli forced himself on her three years ago.

However, her accusations were removed from the internet, with media reports noting that her Weibo post was removed within 30 minutes.

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