JD.com founder and Chinese tech titan Richard Liu sues blogger for defamation

Laurie Chen

Chinese tech billionaire Richard Liu Qiangdong has launched legal action against an outspoken feminist blogger over a series of internet posts in which she claimed he was a rapist.

Liu, the founder of e-commerce site JD.com, who was accused of – but not charged with – rape in the United States, is suing the unnamed woman for 3 million yuan (US$436,000) through the Beijing Internet Court.

On Friday, the blogger – responsible for the popular “MaKuSiShuo” account on China’s microblogging platform Weibo – shared details and screenshots of the defamation lawsuit filed on July 2 by Liu to her 150,000 followers in a widely circulated post.

Liu, 45, was accused of rape last year by a Chinese exchange student at the University of Minnesota but US prosecutors decided not to press charges against him in December, due to insufficient evidence.

JD.com founder sued for alleged rape by Minnesota student

His accuser, Liu Jingyao, has since filed a civil lawsuit against the CEO, seeking more than US$50,000 in damages. Online petitions in support of Liu Jingyao gained thousands of supporters on Chinese social media before they were taken offline earlier this year.

In an anonymous post on Weibo, the blogger wrote: “He just wants to shut up all the people who are speaking out for Jingyao.

“Do I regret publishing that essay? Up until now, I still don’t regret it.”

The lawsuit claims the blogger defamed Liu in several Weibo posts that called him “base and shameless” and frequently described him as “rapist Dong” – a play on his name.

The lawsuit also claimed that one post, in which Liu’s wife, Zhang Zetian, was called a “flower vase” and a “vessel for bringing up his next successor”, was a “malicious conjecture about his marriage”.

Richard Liu Qiangdong and his wife Zhang Zetian at British Princess Eugenie’s wedding in 2018. Photo: YouTube

Richard Liu is seeking 1 million yuan (US$145,000) in compensation for “mental harm” and 2 million yuan in damages for “economic losses”.

The blogger, based in Xiamen, Fujian province, said she had no choice but to counter-sue Liu for 800,000 yuan, due to her low monthly salary of about 5,000 yuan, online news outlet Red Star News reported on Saturday.

“This is not just simply a case of one person suing another, this is a huge amount of capital being used to snuff out an ordinary person,” she was quoted as saying.

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“Richard Liu is not just suing me alone, he is suing anyone on the internet who dares to express their opinion.”

Richard Liu also filed another defamation lawsuit in May against blogger Zhao Shengye seeking 3 million yuan in damages. Zhao rejected the claims, but deleted the online posts from the account.

High-profile legal blogger Han Dongyan wrote on his Weibo microblog on Monday that in his view the woman should settle the lawsuit.

“The blogger should not stubbornly refuse to admit her mistakes, this is not a good way to deal with a lawsuit. Richard Liu is not short of money, he just wants to vent his anger,” Han said.

JD.com’s Richard Liu exonerated by newly released evidence, his lawyer says

“The internet is not a lawless space, you cannot use any web account to insult people whenever you want. I would recommend that the blogger admit her mistake, apologise, make negotiations and pay compensation … do you really think you can wilfully insult and slander him if your monthly earnings are 5,000 yuan? Clearly this defies logic.”

The woman is represented in the counter-lawsuit by lawyer Wan Miaoyan from Chengdu Day Law Firm. Wan declined to comment when contacted by the South China Morning Post.

A spokesman from JD.com told Red Star News it would not comment since it was a personal matter for Liu. The Post has contacted JD.com for comment.

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