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

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


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 Photos

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 the whole 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 folks: Zhang Gaoli, a former vice premier of China and former member of the get together’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 publish, has not been independently corroborated by others — was the primary to be raised publicly towards somebody who had been so senior in China’s authorities.

The publish was swiftly taken down by Chinese language censors, with even searches for her title blocked in China.

She has not been seen in public since.

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

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

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

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

“Censorship is rarely OK at any price,” Naomi Osaka wrote Tuesday.

Feminine tennis participant Peng Shuai whereabouts at present unknown after making Sexual abuse allegations towards Chinese language authorities official.
This speech offers 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 immediately released an email it mentioned Peng had written to Girls’s Tennis Affiliation Chair Steve Simon.

The letter, the authenticity of which couldn’t be verified, claimed Peng was resting at residence 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 truly wrote the e-mail we obtained or believes what’s being attributed to her,” he mentioned.

He known 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 not do enterprise with China, and thus lose out on a whole bunch of thousands and thousands of {dollars} in income, if Peng was not accounted for.

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

A spokesperson for the Girls’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 largely quiet on the disappearance of a three-time Olympian.

“We’ve got seen the most recent experiences and are inspired by assurances that she is protected,” 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 Put up / South China Morning Put up by way of Getty Photos

Zhang Gaoli, then Chinese language vice premier, making a speech in Beijing in Could 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, significantly on the expense of a feminine Olympian making grave allegations,” mentioned Minky Worden, Human Rights Watch’s director of worldwide 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 imagined to be a celebration of humanity, not a possibility to mistreat athletes and sportswash crimes towards 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 observe report of squashing dissent.

“Peng’s latest so-called assertion that ‘every part is ok’ shouldn’t be taken at face worth as China’s state media has a observe report of forcing statements out of people below 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.”