Sport Shocking truth amid Peng Shuai saga exposed
Peng Shuai backlash leaves IOC floundering
The International Olympic Committee is in hot water over the Thomas Bach's call with Peng Shuai.Concern grew in the last week for the former No. 1-ranked doubles player — who hadn't been seen since accusing a senior Chinese official of sexual assault on November 2. Tennis stars and fans alike demanded to know #WhereIsPengShuai, and the head of the Women's Tennis Association threatened to pull lucrative events from China.
Chinese tennis star’s apparent disappearance may have ended with a smattering of public events, which were carefully curated by state-run media and circulated in online clips. But many questions remain about the three weeks in which she was missing, and concerns linger over her wellbeing.
Peng, a former Wimbledon and French Open doubles champion, had been out of the public eye since November 2 when she.
In the US and Europe, such moments of courage from high-profile women have built momentum to out perpetrators of sexual harassment and assault and give a voice to those wronged. But in the political context of today’s People’s Republic of China – a country that tightly controls political narratives within and outside its borders – something else happened. Peng was seemingly silenced; her #MeToo allegation was censored almost as soon as it was made.
Peng propaganda claims 'complete nonsense'
The International Olympic Committee has been forced to defend it's handling of the Peng Shuai saga.The IOC has been under fire for allegedly ignoring serious human rights violations, ahead of the Winter Olympics in Beijing in 2022.
As scholars of Chinese legal culture who have watched as the nation has become increasingly repressive under the premiership of Xi Jinping, we believe the mysterious disappearance – and brief reappearance – of Peng should be viewed within a broader sociolegal context. The episode shows that when presented with a potential pivotal #MeToo moment, Beijing is prepared to violate its own legal principles and respond with a state-media-controlled operation aimed to chill any challenge to CCP authority.
Claim of a sexual assault
Peng’s November 2 post on Weibo, the popular Chinese social media platform, reads like an open letter to Zhang, a retired but still powerful member of China’s Communist Party elite.
How China justifies high-profile disappearances
The disappearance of Peng Shuai has shined a spotlight on similar cases involving political dissidents, entertainers, business leaders.A look at those cases and the background on such actions.
In it, the tennis star alleges coercion, duress and sexual assault. Peng wrote to the 75-year-old Zhang: “Why did you have to come back to me, took me to your home to force me to have sex with you? … I couldn’t describe how disgusted I was, and how many times I asked myself am I still a human? I feel like a walking corpse".
The post was quickly taken down and Peng disappeared. But it sparked widespread international outrage. Current and former athletes expressed concern over Peng’s safety, including Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams. The hashtag #WhereIsPengShuai started trending.
Chinese state media responded by publishing a message purportedly from Peng, stating that “everything is fine". But it was met with deep skepticism across the international community. Even with her re-emergence at public events, concerns over her safety remain.
WTA calls for investigation into Peng's sexual assault allegation
The Women's Tennis Association has called for a full, transparent investigation into an allegation of sexual assault made by Chinese player Peng Shuai. The 35-year-old, a former world No 1 in doubles, reportedly alleged on social media earlier this month she was assaulted by a Chinese politician, but the post was soon deleted.In a statement, WTA chairman Steve Simon said: "The recent events in China concerning a WTA player, Peng Shuai, are of deep concern. As an organisation dedicated to women, we remain committed to the principles we were founded on - equality, opportunity and respect.
Behind the saga, however, is a clear message: it is dangerous to publicly criticise even a former senior Chinese Communist Party official. The party does not want any American-style #MeToo movement in China, as it is hostile to any grassroots movements that challenge its authority.
Peng’s disappearance also shows how authoritarian instruments of control are triggered by politically sensitive matters that contradict Communist Party narratives.
Such control of any sensitive narrative in China is commonplace with the CCP. Just ask Jack Ma, the former head of Alibaba, or movie star Fan Bingbing. Ma, who was the richest man in China and a worldwide celebrity, criticised the Chinese financial industry. This criticism led to his quick disappearance from public view.
Thereafter, his ANT Group IPO was quashed and assets disassembled and appropriated by government-controlled entities. Fan also disappeared from public view and eventually resurfaced, only to be fined for tax evasion. It appeared that the Communist Party considered her conduct may have had a corrupting influence on socialist values with displays of wealth and glamour out of sync with Xi’s revival of Maoist concepts such as “common prosperity".
Osaka 'in shock' over Peng disappearance
Naomi Osaka said she was concerned over the whereabouts of fellow tennis player Peng Shuai.Peng, one of China's biggest sport stars, said on social media earlier this month a former member of China's Politburo Standing Committee, Zhang Gaoli, coerced her into sex and they later had an on-off consensual relationship.
In Peng’s case, her story directly contradicted the Communist Party’s official narrative of harmonious relations between people and Party. In particular, her allegations contradict the narrative that women, who purportedly “hold up half the sky in China”, enjoy gender equality under this government.
Peng, for challenging this view, was given a taste of being cancelled from China’s history and stripped of her rights under the Chinese constitution to seek justice in relation to her serious allegations. Indeed, the Chinese government has a history of unjustly detaining people involved in contentious cases, limiting their capacity to talk freely, and forcing statements.
Under Xi, China enjoys a self-described “socialist democracy with 'Chinese characteristics’", in which “the citizens’ basic rights are respected and guaranteed".
But the response to Peng, among others, shows that rule of law has become a ruthless, blunt force instrument wielded by party leadership.
As Cai Xia, former professor at the Central Party School of the CCP, argued in June 2021: “The regime has degenerated further into a political oligarchy bent on holding on to power through brutality and ruthlessness (and) has grown ever more repressive and dictatorial".
China issued ultimatum over missing tennis star
The Women's Tennis Association (WTA) has threatened to pull all tournaments from China is missing star Peng Shuai is not found. Peng has been unable to be contacted since taking to social media on November 2 to accuse a former Communist Party official of sexual assault against her.On Thursday morning there was a troubling update when a statement was released from China, allegedly written by Peng and claiming she was merely "resting at home".
Cai continued: “A personality cult now surrounds Xi, who has tightened the Party’s grip on ideology and eliminated what little space there was for political speech and civil society".
In Peng’s case, her 'being disappeared' appears to be an attempt to kill several birds with one arrow: crush dissent, stem any Chinese #MeToo momentum and instill fear about criticising CCP officials because, as the vanguard of the Communist Party under Xi Jinping Thought, they must always be seen as virtuous. In short, 'Xi Jinping Thought' is a set of policies and ideas taken from the various writings and speeches of general secretary Xi.
‘Fight to the end’
Peng’s allegations came at a particularly sensitive time for the CCP. It came just as Xi was preparing to deliver a historical resolution aimed at further cementing his grip on power.
“The great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation has entered a key phase, and risks and challenges we face are conspicuously increasing,” Xi remarked, while vowing to “fight to the end” with any forces that attempt to subvert the party’s leadership.
“Any forces” apparently includes anyone who criticizes or challenges the Communist Party – even one of its own international sports stars making serious allegations against a former party official.
For a daily dose of the best of the breaking news and exclusive content from Wide World of Sports, subscribe to our newsletter by
Miley Cyrus: From Disney to divorcée .
A singer, songwriter, and actress, Miley Cyrus has come a long way since her teen idol role in the Disney hit series 'Hannah Montana.' Sassy, raunchy, but also maturing into a stylish and sophisticated performer, Cyrus is keeping ahead of her game and is always dressed for the occasion. Browse this gallery and take a look at Miley's career so far, and what she wears to get her noticed!