Two edited surveillance videos of JD.com’s Richard Liu and his accuser Jingyao Liu were posted on Chinese social media Weibo on Apr. 22. It soon went viral and caused heated discussion in China. What the videos show seems to be unfavorable to Jingyao Liu, the Minnesota student who accused Richard Liu of battery and rape in a civil lawsuit.
In the first video, Jingyao Liu (the plaintiff) and Richard Liu (the defendant) were not sitting together and they were not talking with each other. However, when Richard Liu left the table, Jingyao followed him to leave.
In the second video, Jingyao Liu was walking with Richard Liu and his assistant. She then swiped the card to the front door of her apartment building, pressed the elevator floor on her own, and led Richard Liu go into her apartment. They went through three elevators in the building. The assistant didn’t follow Jingyao Liu and Richard Liu at the second one. As the video shows, Jingyao Liu started to hold Richard Liu’s arm when they came out the second elevator.
Xi Chen, Richard Liu’s attorney, quickly responded to the videos, saying the edited surveillance videos showing Richard Liu and Jingyao Liu arm-in-arm were accurate representation of what happened that night.
Although some people questioned the authenticity of the videos, the law firm representing the accuser said the videos are consistent with what she told law enforcement in the lawsuit filed against the businessman and his company.
As the videos continue to spread and grab the attention of Chinese netizens, it seems there are more reasons to doubt whether Richard Liu’s sexual misconduct is qualified as “rape”. Contrary to the accuser’s indictment that she was directed to sit next to the defendant Richard Liu, there were two people seated between them. The arm-in-arm action also seems to be too intimate to be appropriate. Some people say the videos can prove their argument that the girl was just plotting for Richard Liu’s money.
However, the fact that the videos were only 5 minutes in total, edited and captioned with words in favor of Richard Liu, also lead people to think it is part of JD.com’s PR strategy. Captions like “sitting separately, they were talking with different people and the girl is not drunk” cannot be easily concluded from the content of the video. In terms of the “arm-in-arm” behavior, one netizen says, “Maybe it is indeed inappropriate for them to walk arm-in-arm. However, if I were a 21-year-old girl, I might not be able to judge my behavior and react perfectly appropriate. After all, how many girls were discouraged from being hyper-sensitive?”
We also interviewed a current MBA candidate at Minnesota Carlson School of Management. She mentioned a prevalent negative opinion on Richard Liu’s behavior among her fellows in the MBA program. She also noted that the DBA program, the program Richard Liu attended, is targeted at affluent Chinese entrepreneurs. “These programs are popular at other top universities in the United States, which satisfy both the financial needs of the higher education institutions and the “glitter” experience needs of rich entrepreneurs.”
With all the information available, it is still too early to say whether these videos will play an important role in the lawsuit. The videos bring no actual contradiction with the accuser Jingyao Liu’s indictment. After all, no matter how heated the discussion is in Chinese society, the lawsuit will be judged in the courts of Hennepin County District Court, Minnesota.
Featured photo credit to CFP