Tennis player Peng Shuai has gone missing this month after accusing a former Chinese deputy prime minister of sexually abusing her. Two weeks later she was still missing Leading figures in the game She teamed up with rights activists and #MeToo campaigners to find her.
In early November, the 35-year-old athlete publicly accused Zhang Koli of attacking him on social media on at least one occasion in Tianjin, the highest-ranking city of the Communist Party of China from 2007 to 2012.
He also said he had a long-standing relationship with that powerful political figure, who is 40 years older than himself and married, which was destroyed by auditors within minutes of its release. The Financial Times could not verify Peng’s post.
The case raises embarrassing questions even three months before the Chinese Communist Party’s record of women’s rights and civil rights. Winter Olympics.
The party’s disciplinary body, while purging senior officials, routinely accuses them of sexual misconduct and other misconduct, usually for corruption. But the detailed allegations against Zhang, who retired without a hitch in his official post in 2018, are unprecedented in China, especially from a woman like Peng.
“This is an extraordinary event,” said Yakiu Wang, a Chinese expert with Human Rights Watch, a US-based campaign group.
Although he did not see or hear Peng after that post, his demise received worldwide attention. His case came to light again this week after Chinese state broadcaster CGTN released a statement citing Peng’s claim that he was resting at home and that he was missing or unwell.
This statement caused immediate suspicion from many who claimed it was fake or forcibly written. Yun Jiang, a Chinese expert at the Australian National University, said: “No one believes she is safe now.
A few hours later, Steve Simon, chief executive of the Women’s Tennis Association, said he could not contact Peng and that he should be allowed to speak freely.
Simon questioned the credibility of the email and called for his allegations to be “investigated with full transparency and without censorship”.
The WTA hosts 11 tournaments in China, home to a quarter of the world’s 87-meter tennis players. Simon said the association may be ready to pull events from China.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters in Beijing on Friday that he was unaware of Peng’s condition.
Zhang and Peng could not be reached for comment.
On Friday, Hu Xijin, editor of the Global Times, a nationalist Chinese state-run media outlet, tweeted: “As a person familiar with the Chinese system, I do not believe the foreign media speculated about Peng Shuai’s retaliation and repression.
He is one of the few Chinese tennis players to emerge on the international stage for the past two decades, winning doubles titles at both Wimbledon and the French Open.
Naomi Osaka, Four – time Grand Slam champion and world’s highest paid female athlete, Novak Djokovic, world number one for men, Serena Williams, 23 Grand Slam champion, and broadcaster and former number one Chris Evert joins Penguin’s defense this week.
“I think the WTA will do that. . . Choose life over money. . . Human rights and human dignity take precedence. . . I pray for Peng, ”Evert wrote on Twitter.
I was devastated and shocked to hear the news about my colleague Peng Shuai. I hope she is safe and will be found soon. To investigate this, we must not remain silent. Sends love to her and her family during this incredibly difficult time. # Where is Ispengwai pic.twitter.com/GZG3zLTSC6
– Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) November 18, 2021
Wang, a human rights watchdog, said he was “not so optimistic” about Peng’s future, given the long history of China’s enforced disappearances and forced confessions.
“International attention will at least make the Communist Party aware of what they want to do with Peng Shui,” he said.
However, the episode has already revealed signs of public opposition to the overwhelming power of China’s auditors.
After Peng posted his accusation on his official Weibo account, its screen shots were widely circulated but comments and comments about it were quickly blocked. Auditors blocked explicit and encrypted references to Peng and Zhang.
People who try to comment on Peng or Zhang online receive messages that their posts “violate relevant laws and regulations.”
In 2012, Zhang joined the Politburo Standing Committee, the most powerful organization in the Communist Party of China. A year later he was appointed Deputy Prime Minister.
Peng’s case is the latest indication that the #MeToo movement against discrimination and sexual harassment against women is not gaining momentum in China as it did in the United States and Europe. Ended life Many important entertainment, business and political figures.
Less powerful men than Zhang were able to routinely dismiss such charges in China, often with the help of state auditors and courts controlled by the party.
In September, a Beijing court dismissed key sexual harassment allegations brought by screenwriter Zhou Xiaoxuan against a prominent media person. In one of the movement’s highest cases, the court said there was insufficient evidence to substantiate his claims.
A China-based women’s rights activist, who did not want to be named, said she expects Peng to eventually be publicly withdrawn and always “buried” in the social media world.
While it is possible for women to file public lawsuits against celebrities or businessmen, he said, senior party officials are unlimited.
Yun, at the Australian National University, said Peng had shown “great courage and bravery” in advancing his claims. “Going against a senior [party] The officer can ruin anyone’s life.
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