One of China’s biggest celebrities, Chinese-Canadian pop star Kris Wu has been arrested on suspicion of rape, the AP reported on Sunday.
Officers in Beijing said the investigation centred around online allegations that the star, 30, had “deceived young women multiple times into having sexual relations”.
A police statement said Wu had been “criminally detained” over luring young women to have sexual relationships with him.
The first to accuse him was 19-year-old student Du Meizhu, who posted on social media that she had met Wu when she was 17. She said she had been invited to a party at his home, where she was pressured to drink alcohol and woke up in his bed the next day.
Du said seven other women had told her Wu had seduced them with promises of jobs and other opportunities. She said some were under 18.
“I don’t believe this is just my own personal matter. You can even say that this is a problem with the atmosphere in China’s entertainment circle,” the teenager told NetEase in an interview.
At least 24 more women have since come forward alleging inappropriate behaviour.
Wu has denied plying Du with alcohol, and also rejected other allegations that he had enticed girls to have sex in return for benefits, raped girls while they were unconscious, and had sex with minors. Under Chinese law, under-18s are considered minors, although the age of sexual consent is 14.
“There was no ‘groupie sex’! There was no ‘underage’!” he wrote on his social media account after the allegations were made. “If there were this kind of thing, please everyone relax, I would put myself in jail!”
His lawyers are suing Du for defamation.
Wu first shot to fame as a member of the K-pop boyband EXO. He left in 2014 to launch a successful solo career as a singer, actor, model and talent show judge.
The incident comes as awareness of gender-based violence in China has grown, sparked by the #MeToo movement in 2018, where women voiced their experiences of sexual harassment, sometimes involving high-profile figures.
Since the allegations surfaced, Shanghai cosmetics brand Kans and detergent brand Liby have terminated Wu’s contracts.
TV programme Ethereal Sound also said that it would no longer work with him, according to a report in the Global Times.
Other brands such as Kiehl’s and snack brand Bestore removed mentions of him on their Weibo pages.
“I didn’t expect my silence to encourage these rumors, and I couldn’t stand it!” Wu said. “There were a lot of people there that day who can bear witness.”