Rape in Peking : reexamining the “injured woman” of the infamous 1946 Case

Chunmei DU (Presenter)

Research output: Other Conference ContributionsPresentation


On the Christmas Eve of 1946, a nineteen-year-old Peking University student, Shen Chong, was raped by an intoxicated American marine. Student protests quickly grew into a nationwide “anti-American atrocity” movement, demanding the withdrawal of all U.S. troops from China. Although the court martial in Peking found the defendant guilty, the verdict was overturned by the Judge Advocate of the Navy for lack of evidence.

This paper reexamines the infamous Peking Rape Case in the context of American rape law and military sexual violence overseas. Previous studies have investigated the complex political struggles over the case involving the American government, the Nationalist government, and the Chinese Communist Party. In contrast, this research focuses on the actual courtroom debates over whether rape occurred and how to prove it. Based on archival sources of both American trial proceedings and the Chinese investigation report, I examine how judicial procedure and system, translation and language, medical examination and evidence, and legal assumptions and cultural understandings of rape affected the divergent American and Chinese interpretations of the case.

As a legal and political issue showcasing the complicated Sino-U.S. relations in the early Cold War, this rape case, I argue, should foremost be seen as an injustice against the Chinese woman in the context of U.S. military occupation and judicial discrimination. Caught between a nation mired in a civil war and an empire thirsty for expansion, the Chinese woman’s body was first penetrated, then further exposed, insulted; she was injured both inside and outside the courtroom.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 26 Mar 2022
EventThe 2022 Association for Asian Studies (AAS) Annual Conference - Hawaiʻi Convention Center & Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Resort, Honolulu, United States
Duration: 24 Mar 202227 Mar 2022


ConferenceThe 2022 Association for Asian Studies (AAS) Annual Conference
Abbreviated titleAAS2022
Country/TerritoryUnited States


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