Sunday, January 29, 2023

Tennis star accuses former deputy prime minister of China of sexual abuse

BEIJING (AP) – Chinese authorities have halted almost all online discussion of sexual assault allegations leveled by a Chinese professional tennis star against a former top government official, indicating that the ruling Communist Party is receptive to such allegations. How sensitive

In a lengthy social media post that quickly disappeared, Peng Shuai wrote that former vice president and member of the party’s all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee Zhang Gaoli, despite repeated refusal after a round of tennis three years ago He was forced to have sex. . Her post also states that he had sex once seven years ago and after that he had feelings for her.

Peng is a former top-ranked doubles player who has won 23 Tour-level doubles titles, including the Grand Slam at Wimbledon in 2013 and the French Open in 2014.

The Associated Press could not verify the authenticity of her post, which was made late Tuesday night by her verified account on Weibo, a major Chinese social media platform. The post was soon deleted, and a search on Weibo for Peng’s account no longer yielded any results. Neither he nor Zhang could be reached for comment.

The allegation is the first against a prominent government official since the #MeToo movement in China in 2018, before a massive molestation by officials in the same year. Earlier allegations were confined to the media, advocacy groups and academia.

The Communist Party’s response reflects its determination to control public discourse and control social movements that it may not be sure to control. While social media has become ubiquitous in China, it is firmly under the control of the party.

Screenshots of the post have been circulated on Twitter, which is blocked in China, reinforcing discussions about gender relations in China on a forum where men dominate the top level in politics and business.

In the post, Peng, 35, wrote that Zhang, now 75, and his wife arranged to play tennis in Beijing about three years ago and later brought her to a room in their home where the attack took place.

“I was so scared that afternoon, never thought this thing might happen,” Post says.

Rumors and foreign reports about affairs between young women and key officials have long been a mainstay of Chinese politics, beginning with Mao Zedong, the founder of the People’s Republic.

Cases brought against current and former officials as part of party leader and President Xi Jinping’s decade-long anti-corruption campaign often include allegations of bribery and abusing their positions, as well as an “erotic lifestyle”.

Zhang retired in 2018 and largely disappeared from public life, as is the case with former Chinese officials.

Peng has not played at the top level since the Qatar Open in February 2020. In singles, she reached the semifinals of the 2014 US Open and the subsequent round of 16 at the Australian Open, but did not advance beyond the third round. Any major sporting event since Wimbledon in 2017.

The Communist Party has increasingly cracked down on civil society, including the #MeToo movement, which has struggled to gain traction in the country.

Zhou Xiaosuan, a former trainee at Chinese state broadcaster CCTV, was pushed by onlookers in September while going to court in a case against a famous presenter.

Since then, the movement has been largely shut down by the authorities as activists censored their online posts and faced pressure from the authorities while trying to stage a protest.


Associated Press writer Huizhong Wu in Taipei, Taiwan contributed to this report.


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