The Disappearance of Peng Shuai: What We Know

Photo: FRED DUFOUR / AFP via Getty Images

On the court, 35-year-old Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai is a famous tennis player. She is a three-time track and field athlete who has won 25 tour titles during her career, her resounding success helping to take women’s tennis to the next level in China. Then, this November, she disappeared.

On November 2, Shuai accused Zhang Gaoli, China’s former vice premier under Xi Jinping, of sexual assault in a post on Weibo, a Chinese social media platform. The post was taken down minutes after it appeared and then removed from the Weibo search engine. Not only was Shuai deleted online, she was also missing in real life: After posting the allegation, Firstly Publicly accusing Me Too against a high-ranking Communist Party official in China, Shuai has not been seen in public for two weeks, raising concerns for her safety. In the face of international outcry, the Chinese government made concerted (but inconclusive) efforts to prove that Shuai was fine – claiming that she was just “resting at home”.

But many people still don’t buy it. Here’s what to know about Shuai’s disappearance:

On November 2, in a post written as a direct address to Gaoli, Shuai wrote that in 2018, Gaoli, 75, invited her to play tennis with him and his wife. She says all three of them went to Gaoli’s house afterwards, and Gaoli forced her to have sex with him. “I disagreed that first afternoon. I cried the whole time… After dinner, when I was still reluctant, you said you hated me,” she wrote. In the article, she also told had consensual sex with Gaoli ten years earlier, when he was the Tianjin party chief, and addressed the fact that she had no solid evidence of the assault: “You were always afraid of me will record and keep them as evidence. In fact I have no proof or proof other than my own words,” Shuai wrote. “But even if it’s just me, like an egg hitting a rock, or a moth rushing into a fire, destroying itself, I’ll tell the truth about you.” Shuai also wrote that the hurt left to her feeling “Like a walking corpse.”

In China’s heavily censored and monitored cyberspace, the post was taken down after half an hour, and search “Tennis”, “Peng Shuai” and “Zhang Gaoli” have been temporarily blocked. Personal account sent Screenshots of the post has been suspended. Meanwhile, Shuai has not been heard from since posting the allegation. Around the world, while support for Shuai continued to grow, many people began to worry for her safety. Several tennis stars, including Naomi Osaka, Serena Williams, Billie Jean King, and Rafael Nadal denounced censorship and expressed their concerns about Shuai. Before the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, Biden Manager and United Nation Ask for proof of her health. Steve Simon, head of the Women’s Tennis Association, told CNN that he was ready to pull his business in China to deal with what happened. “This is bigger than business,” Simon speak. “Women should be respected and not censored.”

On November 17, CGTN – an official news media organization under the control of the publicity department of the Communist Party of China – tweeted showed a photograph of a purported message from Peng Shuai to Simon, though it failed to reassure many.

“Hello everyone, my name is Peng Shuai,” read Messages are written in English. It went on to assert Shuai’s allegations of sexual assault were “untrue”, and also denied her disappearance. “I am not missing, nor am I unsafe. I just rested at home and everything is fine. Thank you again for your interest in me.” In one declare Posting on the WTA’s website, Simon called for an independent verification of Shuai’s whereabouts and safety. He said the suspicious email only increased his concerns about Shuai, adding that he had tried to contact her through various forms of communication “to no avail”.

Then, some suspicious pictures and videos of Shuai appeared. On November 19, a Chinese state television employee posted photos of Shuai on Twitter, alleging that her friend had shared photos from her WeChat moment. NS Photograph captioned “Happy Weekend” and an image of Shuai playing with a gray cat and holding up a panda figurine in a selfie, although it’s unclear when they were taken. China’s state television also posted a video of Shuai eating with his coach at a restaurant in Beijing. In the video, the coach ask Shuai: “Tomorrow is November 21st, right?” This date is repeated three more times in the video, although Shuai never says it. Another state official tweeted a video of Shuai purporting to attend a Beijing tennis final.

Teng Biao, a civil rights lawyer from China, told New York Times that the video “can only prove that Peng Shuai is alive, nothing else. They cannot prove that Peng Shuai is free.”

Before Shuai’s disappearance, there were many call to the International Olympic Committee to move the Winter Olympics out of Beijing. (Similar calls have been made in the past, quoting human rights violations are taking place.) Several organizations, including Human Rights Watch, the Sports & Rights Alliance, the Army of Survivors and the World Players Organization, have called on the IOC to use its power to ensure Shuai’s safety, but the IOC has so far done nothing. .

On November 21, the IOC claimed to have had a call with Shuai, and although no recordings or footage has been released, IOC president Dick Pound confirmed Shuai showed up.good,“A statement only met with more suspicion and outrage. On December 2, the IOC announced that it had a second video call with Shuai, claim it is using a “people-and-people-centred approach” and “silent diplomacy” to deal with the situation. The IOC again declared Shuai to appear “safe and good.” Meanwhile, Peter Dahlin, director of the human rights NGO Safeguards, has said that the IOC’s calls to Shuai were “clearly staged” and put her safety at risk. more at risk”. In an open letters With the IOC on the organization’s website, Dahlin said Shuai’s appearance on these video calls was a “strange behavior similar to a repeated CCP tactic of appearing on stage-managed TV.” jurisprudence, in which the victim is paraded and forced to perform by the police, often in response to international criticism”.

On Wednesday, the Women’s Tennis Association announced its decision to suspend all tournaments in China and Hong Kong. Simon released another one declare said the situation with Shuai was “unacceptable.”

“If those in power can suppress women’s voices and sweep sexual assault allegations under the rug,” wrote Simon, “then the basis on which the WTA is founded – equality for women – will suffer a great defeat. I will not and cannot let that happen to the WTA and its players.” The Disappearance of Peng Shuai: What We Know


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