Women are using the #MeToo hashtag to share stories of sexual harassment, assault and coercion around the world. One Chinese tennis player has recently become a target for scrutiny after she shared an account of how she was treated by her former coach in 2011.
On November 2, a sexual harassment complaint against a former member of China’s governing elite was made public on social media. The message was removed the following day, but Western news companies had extensively reported the story.
The New York Times, The Guardian, and other news outlets have reported on tennis player Peng Shuai’s accusation that he was forced into having non-consensual intercourse with former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli. According to accounts, this was the first time a #MeToo charge was lodged against such a powerful member of China’s governing elite.
According to the reports, Peng, 35, claimed to have been in a consensual relationship with Zhang, 75, on and off for many years.
The assertion was made via a verified account on the popular social networking site Weibo, according to the New York Times. The Guardian, for its part, said that it was unable to verify the post’s veracity. By November 3, the message was vanished from China’s social media, according to all sources.
China’s internet control has prohibited searches for Peng’s name and even the term “tennis,” according to the New York Times. Radio Free Asia (RFA), a US-funded station, said that a search for Peng’s name on Weibo on November 3 turned up nothing except content from September 10 and earlier.
According to RFA, screenshots of the athlete’s message were extensively circulated in China and overseas.
‘That day, I never agreed.’
An English translation of a phrase from her post in which she recounted a sexual encounter with Zhang three years ago was included in The Guardian’s coverage of the claim. “I never consented that afternoon, weeping all the while,” she was reported as adding.
According to RFA’s version of Peng’s post, the two had had an on-again, off-again romance for years.
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The athlete had agreed to serve as the politician’s hidden mistress. According to RFA’s translation, the athlete added, “I fully acknowledge that I’m not one of the nice females” at one point in the article.
According to RFA, Zhang was China’s vice premier from 2013 to 2018 and a member of the Politburo Standing Committee from 2012 to 2017.
He has been a dependable backer of President Xi Jinping, according to the report. After wins at Wimbledon in 2013 and the French Open in 2014, Peng was rated as the world’s No. 1 doubles player in 2014, according to RFA.
Peng’s claims, according to journalist Liu Chengkun, are something that Chinese people would never discuss in private “since it concerns a member of the Politburo standing committee.” He went on to say that China was now in “a state of red terror,” and that the athlete would “most certainly face reprisal via the criminal justice system for ruining the name of a national leader.”
There is no proof to back up the charges.
According to the New York Times, it proved hard to confirm Peng’s claims.
According to a translation published by the, the tennis player confessed in her statement, “There is no audio record, no video record, just my distorted but very genuine experience.”
Zhang served as governor of Shandong province and Communist Party Secretary in the port city of Tianjin before joining the seven-member Politburo Standing Committee, according to the New York Times. Peng recognized Zhang’s strong position in a translated section, but added boldly, “even if it’s just me, like an egg striking a rock, or a moth to the flame, courting self-destruction, I’ll reveal the truth about you.”
Peng Shuai, a tennis player, publicly accused Zhang Gaoli, a former vice premier of China, of sexual assault. For the first time, the country’s #MeToo movement has reached the Communist Party’s highest levels. https://t.co/Z2EwtHD8DE
November 3, 2021 — The New York Times (@nytimes)
In China, there are more #MeToo instances.
Other #MeToo situations involving well-known Chinese figures have been mentioned in Western news sources.
In 2018, former television intern Zhou Xiaoxuan made complaints against her male coworker Zhu Jun, according to the report. She had brought him to court, only to have the case dismissed in September, according to the report.
Former graduate student Luo Xixi accused Beihang University Professor Chen Xiaowu of sexual harassment on social media in 2018, according to RFA.
According to RFA, the institution fired the lecturer as a consequence of the allegations. According to Kerry Allen, a media analyst for the, some Chinese citizens have devised ingenious techniques to avoid censorship while discussing these incidents.
Allen pointed out that the Mandarin phrases “rice” and “rabbit” had been used to allude to #MeToo because they sound similar to the English “me, too” when spoken aloud.
“Censorship isn’t working,” said activist Pin Lü in an interview with the New York Times.
She informed the newspaper that #MeToo had gained traction in China. “No one could have predicted that it would reach this high level,” she said, according to the article, when Chinese women first started discussing about sexual harassment three years ago.