Following the assault allegations: Osaka's concern about Peng Shuai

Chinese politician accused of sexual assault: Shuai Bing.

© Wu Hong / EPA / dpa

Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka is concerned about her Chinese colleague Peng Shuai, who is believed to have disappeared after allegations of sexual assault by a prominent Chinese politician.

BEIJING – “I am shocked by the current situation and send love and light in your direction,” Osaka wrote on Twitter. She criticized Chinese censorship, which removes any discussion of the issue from the Internet and the media. “I hope Peng Shuai and her family are well and in good health.”

The WTA International Women’s Tennis Association had only requested clarification the previous Sunday. WTA president Steve Simon was quoted as saying that recent events in China are being watched with great concern. “Peng Shuai and all women deserve to be heard and not be censored.” The two-time former Wimbledon and French Open winner, 35, has not been seen in public since her allegations were posted on social network Weibo earlier this month with “Where’s Peng Shuai?” (#WhereIsPengShuai) out loud.

In her Weibo post, which was deleted shortly after it was posted, Peng Shuai revealed that she had been in an on-off relationship with married former Vice Prime Minister Zhang Gaoli for ten years. The article talks about love and affection, but also about unwanted sexual assault – but without any evidence to make any claim, it was said. The authenticity of the post cannot be verified via her Weibo account.

75-year-old Zhang Gaoli was once considered one of China’s most powerful politicians. He served as Deputy Prime Minister from 2013 to 2018 – and from 2012 to 2017 he was even a member of the Politburo Standing Committee, the highest power body of the Communist Party. This is the first case in which a prominent politician has been caught in the crossfire since the #MeToo movement entered China in 2018. Since then, some issues have surfaced in academia, the press, and the business world, among others. dpa


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