A court in Hangzhou on Wednesday heard a case involving a 27-year-old man who threw the woman he pursued for eight years from the 19th floor of an apartment building, reported The Paper, Sixth Tone’s sister publication.
The defendant, surnamed Xue, and the victim, surnamed Wang, had gone to high school together and kept in contact since, though Wang reportedly rejected Xue’s many attempts to make their relationship romantic. Nevertheless, while Xue was studying abroad in the U.S., he had expensive gifts sent to Wang’s apartment, including a Coach handbag and a Tiffany necklace.
In early 2017, Xue returned from studying abroad two years early, afraid that Wang might marry someone else. He moved to Hangzhou, capital of eastern China’s Zhejiang province, and persuaded Wang and her colleague at an online payment company to share an apartment with him.
Phone records the court obtained show that Xue would message Wang every few minutes to ask where she was, what she was doing, and why she wasn’t answering him. Wang’s own phone records show that she had blocked Xue’s number.
After the two moved in together, Wang met another man at a wedding. On March 20, the night before Wang’s death, Xue claims to have overheard her on the phone with the man. “I heard her saying that I liked her and was pursuing her,” Xue reportedly said, “but that she didn’t like me and wished I would leave.”
On the morning of March 21, Xue snuck into Wang’s bedroom while she was washing up in the bathroom. When she came out, he pushed her onto the balcony, lifted her into the air, and threw her over the railing. A medical report determined that she died from multiple organ failure caused by the fall.
Xue reportedly confessed to police. Wang’s parents are seeking a minimum of 10 million yuan ($1.5 million) in compensation for their daughter’s death.
Lu Xiaoquan, a lawyer at Beijing Qianqian Law Firm, which specializes in legal aid for victims of gender-based violence, told Sixth Tone that his firm regularly receives requests for help from women being harassed by men who are romantically interested in them.
Not until March 2016 did China introduce its first legislation aimed at tackling domestic violence. The law includes provisions for restraining orders, or “personal safety protection orders” as they are known in China, but does not fully apply to nonphysical abuse or people who are not in a relationship — meaning it doesn’t protect women in situations like Wang’s.
Netizen reactions since the court revealed the details of the case have overwhelmingly condemned Wang, the victim. One highly upvoted comment reads: “I think the woman deserved it. If you don’t like someone, then accepting their gifts is just toying with them! That’s why he was pushed to do it! It is understandable.”
The Hangzhou court has given no indication of how it will sentence Xue, though in March an abusive husband received a suspended death sentence for killing his wife, journalist Hong Mei.
Correction: A previous version of this story said that China’s domestic violence law does not apply to nonmarital relationships. This was true of the draft version of the law, though unmarried cohabitants were added to the enacted law.
Editor: David Paulk.
(Header image: Sun Zhan for Sixth Tone)