Richard Qiangdong Liu, CEO and founder of e-commerce giant JD.com, returned to China this week, just days after being arrested by Minneapolis police on suspicion of sexual assault (The Washington Post).
The Minneapolis Police Department said its investigation of the accusation is ongoing and that is hasn’t yet decided whether to file felony charges against the 45-year-old Chinese billionaire, who had been visiting the city on business.
On September 5, the South China Morning Post reported that the accusation against Liu is “first degree rape.”
JD.com is one of China’s largest online retailers and Liu, an outspoken advocate of replacing workers with total industrial automation, is one of China’s more dynamic tech billionaires, who have been called “the rock stars of China’s Gilded Age.” He and his wife, Zhang Zetian, popularly known as Sister Milk Tea, have long been national celebrities and tabloid fixtures.
Liu’s mug shot (Associated Press), taken by the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office, has gone viral and been endlessly dissected on Chinese social media.
“Chinese news outlets and social media users were consumed … by details of Liu’s arrest,” reported Singapore’s The Straits Times. “The intense reactions to Liu’s legal troubles reflect the public’s fascination with China’s self-made tech tycoons, who have become symbols of the country’s rise as a global power and its upward social mobility.”
Through the JD.com website and a spokesperson, Liu has called the accusation “unsubstantiated.” Minneapolis police said they have no legal right to prevent Liu from leaving the country.