Home News A Chinese language Tennis Star Accused A High Official Of Sexual Assault....

A Chinese language Tennis Star Accused A High Official Of Sexual Assault. Then She Disappeared.

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Tennis stars are demanding solutions about Peng Shuai, whose disappearance has once more underscored China’s brutal authoritarianism simply months earlier than it hosts the Winter Olympics.

Posted on November 19, 2021, at 4:01 p.m. ET



Xinhua Information Company / Xinhua Information Company / Getty Photographs

Peng Shuai on the Australian Open in January 2020

The message was solely on-line for a couple of minutes, however its shock waves have reverberated around the globe.

“I used to be so scared that afternoon,” tennis participant Peng Shuai wrote in her Nov. 2 message on Weibo, China’s model of Twitter. “I by no means gave consent, crying your entire time.”

Peng, a former world No. 1–ranked doubles participant who has gained championships at Wimbledon and the French Open, mentioned she was sexually assaulted by one of many Chinese language Communist Get together’s most outstanding individuals: Zhang Gaoli, a former vice premier of China and former member of the social gathering’s Politburo Standing Committee.

The 35-year-old tennis star mentioned Zhang, 75, had raped her a number of years in the past. They later had an on-again, off-again consensual relationship, she mentioned.

“I really feel like a strolling corpse,” Peng wrote.

Her allegation of sexual assault — which, as Peng acknowledged in her put up, has not been independently corroborated by others — was the primary to be raised publicly in opposition to somebody who had been so senior in China’s authorities.

The put up was swiftly taken down by Chinese language censors, with even searches for her identify blocked in China.

She has not been seen in public since.

The disappearance of one in all China’s prime athletes simply months earlier than the nation is because of host the Winter Olympics has once more shone a lightweight on the nation’s brutal authoritarianism and repressive human rights record.



On Friday, the United Nations human rights workplace told reporters it wished proof of her “whereabouts and wellbeing.”

High tennis stars have since rallied to Peng’s trigger, flooding social media with the hashtag #WhereIsPengShuai.

“I’m devastated and shocked to listen to concerning the information of my peer, Peng Shuai,” Serena Williams wrote Thursday. “I hope she is secure and located as quickly as potential. This have to be investigated and we should not keep silent.”

“Censorship isn’t OK at any value,” Naomi Osaka wrote Tuesday.

Feminine tennis participant Peng Shuai whereabouts at present unknown after making Sexual abuse allegations in opposition to Chinese language authorities official.
This speech provides us a reminder and a few hope that issues can change sooner or later 🙏
#WhereIsPengShuai https://t.co/eKnLCHcPLj


Twitter: @andy_murray

Amid rising worldwide consideration on her plight, Chinese language state media on Thursday all of a sudden released an email it mentioned Peng had written to Ladies’s Tennis Affiliation Chair Steve Simon.

The letter, the authenticity of which couldn’t be verified, claimed Peng was resting at house and had by no means licensed for the unique “not true” assertion to be posted on Weibo.

However in a statement on Thursday, Simon mentioned the purported Peng letter solely made him extra fearful for her security.

“I’ve a tough time believing that Peng Shuai really wrote the e-mail we obtained or believes what’s being attributed to her,” he mentioned.

He referred to as for “unbiased and verifiable proof” of her security and a full investigation into her claims.

“Peng Shuai have to be allowed to talk freely, with out coercion or intimidation from any supply,” Simon mentioned. “Her allegation of sexual assault have to be revered, investigated with full transparency and with out censorship.”

Simon told CNN the WTA was ready to now not do enterprise with China, and thus lose out on tons of of thousands and thousands of {dollars} in income, if Peng was not accounted for.

“That is larger than the enterprise,” he mentioned.

A spokesperson for the Ladies’s Sports activities Basis, a US nonprofit based in 1974 by tennis legend Billie Jean King, advised BuzzFeed Information they supported the WTA’s place.

“We’re deeply involved and troubled by the disappearance of Peng Shuai and her allegation of sexual assault,” the spokesperson mentioned. “We help the WTA’s calls for for verifiable proof of her security and that her allegations be revered and investigated with full transparency.”

However the letter was apparently sufficient for the Worldwide Olympic Committee, which has been principally quiet on the disappearance of a three-time Olympian.

“We now have seen the newest experiences and are inspired by assurances that she is secure,” an IOC spokesperson mentioned Thursday.

That tepid assertion was criticized as feckless by broad swaths of the Western media and nongovernmental organizations.


South China Morning Submit / South China Morning Submit by way of Getty Photographs

Zhang Gaoli, then Chinese language vice premier, making a speech in Beijing in Might 2017.

The worldwide advocacy group Human Rights Watch additionally shamed the IOC for what it mentioned was an “endorsement” of the Chinese language authorities’s “line.”

“It is astonishing that the IOC would settle for the federal government’s assurances, notably on the expense of a feminine Olympian making grave allegations,” mentioned Minky Worden, Human Rights Watch’s director of world initiatives.

The group urged athletes, sports activities followers, and sponsors of the Winter Video games to talk out about human rights in China.

“The Olympics are alleged to be a celebration of humanity, not a possibility to mistreat athletes and sportswash crimes in opposition to humanity,” Worden mentioned.

After a digital assembly on Monday with Chinese language President Xi Jinping, President Joe Biden mentioned this week he was contemplating a diplomatic boycott of the upcoming Video games.

Amnesty Worldwide additionally said it was deeply involved for Peng given China’s monitor report of squashing dissent.

“Peng’s current so-called assertion that ‘all the things is ok’ shouldn’t be taken at face worth as China’s state media has a monitor report of forcing statements out of people underneath duress, or else merely fabricating them,” mentioned Amnesty Worldwide China researcher Doriane Lau. “These considerations won’t go away except Peng’s security and whereabouts are confirmed.”