NATALIA FALCHI WRITES — Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai recently shared a personal #MeToo experience on Weibo, accusing former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli of sexual assault. But her post was removed within minutes. Zhang Gaoli of course served on the Communist Party’s Politburo Standing Committee from 2012 to 2017.
Ms. Peng’s accusations could not be confirmed, given that she was not able to provide evidence due to lack of witnesses. She also admitted to having had an on-and-off consensual relationship with the prominent leader who, she said, had expressed worries that she might record their encounters.
Although deleted, Peng’s briefly posted allegation has come to the forefront of discussion in the nation’s highly monitored and controlled internet and media, as well as in the public domain. Searches of Peng’s name have been blocked by the Chinese government, due to the extreme cultural, social, and political sensitivity within China regarding allegations of misconduct by political leaders. Despite all that, public discourse around the incident is still occurring.
Many women today attribute these repressive actions to the Chinese, deeply ingrained patriarchal tradition of business or governmental officials using their titles to manipulate women into being victims of assault and misconduct. Maybe, though, news of this allegation, although deleted, will allow more women to feel comfortable enough to share their experiences. Maybe, too, more victims will be heard.