Who Is Peng Shuai? Chinese Tennis Star Accuses Top Politician Of Sexual Assault

Who is Peng Shuai: A #MeToo allegation from China’s young tennis star Peng Shuai against ex-Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli has sent shockwaves across the country. As per reports, she revealed details of sexual assault in a now-deleted post on a Chinese social media platform on Tuesday. In her open letter, Shuai alleged misconduct over a ten-year period.

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“Why did you have to come back to me?” 35-year-old Shuai wrote in her open letter on Weibo, as quoted in various media reports. She claims Gaoli took her to his home and forced her into sex with him, adding she felt “disgusted” and like a “walking corpse.” She says she “did not have any evidence, and it was simply impossible to have evidence.”

Channels like CNN and AFP that have reported on the #MeToo controversy indicate they haven’t yet been able to verify the authenticity of viral screenshots of Shuai’s open letter doing rounds online.

Reports, however, suggest Shuai’s allegations have prompted censorship on Chinese social media, which comes under the purview of the ruling Communist Party’s restrictive laws. Shuai’s verified Weibo account, where the #MeToo allegation was reportedly posted, has been blocked from searches according to CNN. All discussions on and references to the controversy were also blocked.

Know Who Is Peng Shuai And The Explosive #MeToo Allegations She Has Made

Shuai is a Wimbledon and French Open title holder, having created history in 2014 by becoming the first Chinese tennis player to ever be ranked world number one in doubles by the Women’s Tennis Association. She began playing tennis young, winning her first title at only 15.

According to The Guardian, in her open letter Shuai claimed there was an “extramarital” affair between her and Gaoli, who is now 75. He allegedly attempted to keep their relationship under wraps. Three years ago, he called her to his house on the pretext of playing tennis with him and his wife, and allegedly raped her.

“I never consented that afternoon…” she wrote, as reported in the media. “I agreed to it with my feelings for you from seven years ago.”

Though Shuai’s allegations are not the first in the country’s high-profile cases of #MeToo, they can well be marked as the first of their kind to be levelled against a top Communist Party leader in China.

Gaoli, who retired in 2018, was one of seven members of the Xi Jinping government’s ruling Politburo committee between 2012 and 2017. Information about political leaders of the ruling party in China is heavily guarded, making independent verification of any claims about them difficult. There has been no statement from Gaoli on the matter and no further word from Shuai as well.

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