Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai accuses fmr vice premier of ‘sexual misconduct’

Peng Shuai accuses former vice premier of China of ‘sexual misconduct’

Peng Shuai, a former world No. 1 tennis doubles player and one of China’s most famous athletes, has accused a former Chinese vice premier Zhang Gaoli of pressuring her into sex in a social media post that was later deleted.

Peng said that Mr,  Gaoli, a member of the Politburo Standing Committee – China’s top decision-making body – pushed her into sex and that they afterwards had an on-again, off-again consensual relationship, according to a snapshot of her verified Weibo account posted late Tuesday.

Although searches for Peng’s name on China’s tightly regulated internet spiked after the posting, and copies were shared around private WeChat groups and over iMessage, the post was erased roughly half an hour after it was published.

China’s internet is heavily censored and the private lives of top leaders are an especially sensitive subject.

Peng did not respond to a request for comment submitted to her Weibo account, despite the fact that she stated in the post that she had no evidence to back up her claims. A request for response was addressed to APG, a sports marketing agency that claims to represent her on its website.

Requests for comment, including from Zhang, were not immediately responded to by China’s State Council Information Office. When asked about the Weibo post at a normal daily briefing, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said he was unaware of the situation and that “this is not a topic of foreign affairs.”

Until the #MeToo movement began in 2018, when a Beijing college student publicly accused her professor of sexual harassment, sexual harassment and assault were rarely discussed in public in China. Non-governmental organizations, the media, and other industries were affected.

Zhang, now 75, was a vice premier between 2013 and 2018 and had also been party secretary of the northeastern province of Shandong. He served on the Politburo Standing Committee between 2012 and 2017.

Peng became the world No. 1 doubles player in 2014, the first Chinese player to do so, after winning the doubles crowns at Wimbledon in 2013 and the French Open in 2014.

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