Timeline of Chinese language tennis star Peng Shuai's #MeToo reckonin

Timeline of Chinese language tennis star Peng Shuai’s #MeToo reckonin


The mysterious public retreat of tennis star Peng Shuai has sparked a #MeToo reckoning that has escaped China’s web firewall and rocked the worldwide sports activities neighborhood.

Peng, 35, gained worldwide acclaim within the tennis world after successful main titles at Wimbledon in 2013 and the French Open in 2014. She was previously ranked No. 1 globally in ladies’s doubles.

Final month, she accused a retired high Chinese language Communist Get together official of sexual assault after which seemingly disappeared from social media. As worldwide concern for her mounted, she reappeared through correspondence launched by Chinese language state-run information retailers that backtracked her sexual assault claims — which solely prompted additional international skepticism about her security and whereabouts.

Here’s a timeline of the saga that has spurred international backlash in opposition to China’s dealing with of high-profile sexual assault claims, and put the nation’s web and media censorship insurance policies below renewed worldwide criticism simply weeks forward of the Beijing 2022 Olympic Video games.

Nov. 2: ‘I’ll inform the reality about you’

In a prolonged put up on her verified account on Weibo, a well-liked Chinese language social media platform, Peng accused Zhang Gaoli, the previous vice premier of the Chinese language Communist Get together, of sexual assault and stated she had a yearslong affair with him.

The put up swiftly disappeared after being shared on Nov. 2, however screenshots of it circulated on-line within the following weeks.

“I’ve no proof, and it’s not possible to go away proof in any respect. … You’re at all times afraid of what recorder I convey, leaving proof or one thing,” Peng wrote. “However even when I turn out to be like an egg hitting in opposition to a rock and like moths extinguished within the flame, I’ll inform the reality about you.”

Nov. 16: Naomi Osaka tweets about Peng Shuai

As Peng’s disappearance from the general public eye started to lift worldwide issues, Japanese skilled tennis participant Naomi Osaka lent her voice to the rising social media seek for her Chinese language colleague.

“Hey everybody, unsure in case you’ve been following the information however I used to be lately knowledgeable of a fellow tennis participant that has gone lacking shortly after revealing that she has been sexually abused,” Osaka wrote. “Censorship isn’t okay at any value, I hope Peng Shuai and her household are secure and okay. I am in shock of the present scenario and sending love and light-weight her manner.”

Osaka has over 1,000,000 followers on Twitter, and her tweet garnered over 93,000 likes on the platform.

Nov. 17: Chinese language state-run media releases e-mail allegedly from Peng

As international concern and requires proof-of-life mounted, Chinese language state-run media launched an e-mail that was allegedly written by Peng to the worldwide Girls’s Tennis Affiliation that back-tracked her sexual assault allegations.

CGTN Europe, an English-language arm of the state-owned China World Tv Community, tweeted a screenshot of the e-mail Peng allegedly despatched to WTA Chairman and CEO Steve Simon on Nov. 17.

The screenshot of the purported e-mail opens with, “Good day everybody that is Peng Shuai,” and says that the allegation of sexual assault isn’t true. “I am not lacking, nor am I unsafe. I’ve simply been resting at house and every thing is okay,” the textual content of the notice, posted by CGTN Europe, states.

ABC Information can not independently affirm that Peng penned the e-mail broadcast by the state-run information outlet, and the WTA’s Simon stated he has a “arduous time believing that Peng Shuai truly wrote the e-mail.”

“The assertion launched as we speak by Chinese language state media regarding Peng Shuai solely raises my issues as to her security and whereabouts,” Simon stated in a press release to ABC Information in November. “I’ve a tough time believing that Peng Shuai truly wrote the e-mail we obtained or believes what’s being attributed to her.”

“Peng Shuai displayed unimaginable braveness in describing an allegation of sexual assault in opposition to a former high official within the Chinese language authorities. The WTA and the remainder of the world want impartial and verifiable proof that she is secure,” Simon added. “I’ve repeatedly tried to achieve her through quite a few types of communication, to no avail.”

Simon known as for Peng to be allowed to talk freely and for her allegation of sexual assault to be investigated with “full transparency and with out censorship.”

Additionally on Nov. 17, American tennis famous person Serena Williams posted a tweet calling for an investigation into Peng’s allegations.

“I’m devastated and shocked to listen to in regards to the information of my peer, Peng Shuai. I hope she is secure and located as quickly as doable. This should be investigated and we should not keep silent. Sending like to her and her household throughout this extremely troublesome time,” Williams wrote, including the hashtag #whereispengshuai.

Williams’ tweet garnered over 134,000 likes.

Nov. 18: China says Peng’s case is ‘not a overseas affairs matter’

The next day, Chinese language Overseas Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian dismissed questions on Peng’s whereabouts at a briefing, saying: “This isn’t a overseas affairs matter. And I’m not conscious of the related scenario you talked about.”

Nov. 19: UN requires investigation, WH requires ‘verifiable proof’ of her whereabouts

The United Nations known as for an investigation into Peng’s allegations of sexual assault on Nov. 19.

“As you realize, in accordance with out there info, Peng, the previous world double No. 1, hasn’t been heard from publicly since she alleged on social media that she had been sexually assaulted,” Liz Throssell, the spokeswoman for the U.N. Excessive Commissioner for Human Rights, advised reporters. “We might stress that it is very important know the place she is and you realize, her state, find out about her well-being.”

“We’re calling for an investigation with full transparency into her allegations of sexual assault,” Throssell added. “And I believe we’d say that that needs to be the case into all allegations of sexual assault. It’s actually essential to make sure accountability, to make sure justice for the victims.”

On the identical day, White Home press secretary Jen Psaki known as on China to supply “verifiable proof” of Peng’s whereabouts.

Nov. 21: IOC president says he had a video name with Peng

Worldwide Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach stated he held a video name with Peng on Nov. 21.

Video of the decision was not launched, however a nonetheless picture was. The IOC stated in a press release that Peng thanked the IOC for its issues about her well-being.

“She defined that she is secure and properly, residing at her house in Beijing, however wish to have her privateness revered at the moment,” the assertion stated. “That’s the reason she prefers to spend her time with family and friends proper now. However, she’s going to proceed to be concerned in tennis, the game she loves a lot.”

The IOC stated the decision lasted half-hour and was joined by Emma Terho, chair of the IOC Athletes’ Fee, and IOC Member in China Li Lingwei.

“I used to be relieved to see that Peng Shuai was doing nice, which was our predominant concern. She seemed to be relaxed. I supplied her our assist and to remain in contact at any time of her comfort, which she clearly appreciated,” Terho stated in a press release launched by the IOC.

The IOC stated Bach invited Peng for a dinner as soon as he arrives in Beijing subsequent January for the Winter Olympics, which she accepted.

Dec. 1: WTA suspends all tournaments in China and Hong Kong

WTA Chairman and CEO Steve Simon introduced in a prolonged assertion that the worldwide tennis physique was instantly suspending all WTA tournaments in China, together with in Hong Kong.

Simon lauded Peng’s “energy and braveness” for coming ahead along with her allegation of sexual assault on Nov. 2.

“Since then, Peng’s message has been faraway from the web and dialogue of this critical concern has been censored in China. Chinese language officers have been offered the chance to stop this censorship, verifiably show that Peng is free and capable of communicate with out interference or intimidation, and examine the allegation of sexual assault in a full, honest and clear method,” Simon stated. “Sadly, the management in China has not addressed this very critical concern in any credible manner. Whereas we now know the place Peng is, I’ve critical doubts that she is free, secure and never topic to censorship, coercion and intimidation.”

Simon stated the WTA has repeated its requires a full and clear investigation, with out censorship, into Peng’s accusation.

“The WTA will do every thing doable to guard its gamers,” Simon added. “As we achieve this, I hope leaders around the globe will proceed to talk out so justice may be finished for Peng, and all ladies, regardless of the monetary ramifications.”

He continued: “I very a lot remorse it has come up to now. The tennis communities in China and Hong Kong are filled with nice folks with whom we’ve labored for a few years. They need to be pleased with their achievements, hospitality and success. Nonetheless, except China takes the steps we’ve requested for, we can not put our gamers and workers in danger by holding occasions in China. China’s leaders have left the WTA with no alternative. I stay hopeful that our pleas will likely be heard and the Chinese language authorities will take steps to legitimately deal with this concern.”

Chinese language state-run information outlet CGTN launched an English-language assertion from the Chinese language Tennis Affiliation expressing “indignation and agency opposition” to the WTA’s determination.

Dec. 2: IOC says it held a 2nd video name with Peng, defends ‘quiet diplomacy’

After criticism from some that the primary video name was a publicity stunt, the IOC stated on Dec. 2 that it had a second video name along with her on Dec. 1 and defended its use of “quiet diplomacy.”

“There are alternative ways to realize her well-being and security. We’ve got taken a really human and person-centred method to her scenario,” the IOC stated. “Since she is a three-time Olympian, the IOC is addressing these issues immediately with Chinese language sports activities organisations. We’re utilizing ‘quiet diplomacy’ which, given the circumstances and based mostly on the expertise of governments and different organisations, is indicated to be essentially the most promising option to proceed successfully in such humanitarian issues.”

The group stated that it was “reconfirmed” within the second name that Peng “seemed to be secure and properly.”

Dec. 19: Peng denies sexual assault allegation in cryptic video look

Within the first time the general public has heard Peng communicate for the reason that Weibo put up on Nov. 2, the tennis star appeared to briefly reply questions in a video clip shared by the Singaporean Chinese language-language information outlet Lianhe Zaobao.

Peng attended a cross-country snowboarding exhibition in Shanghai over the weekend amid the run as much as the Beijing 2022 Olympics, the place she answered just a few questions on video from a reporter with Lianhe Zaobao. The Singapore-based information outlet is understood to be Beijing-friendly, regardless of claiming editorial independence. It is without doubt one of the few information retailers that may make use of native Chinese language reporters on the Chinese language mainland — a capability not each overseas press outlet has in China.

“I’ve at all times been free to return and go,” Peng advised the reporter, in accordance with a translation of the clip.

“To begin with, I wish to emphasize that it is rather essential that I by no means stated something nor have I written something about anyone sexually assaulting me,” she added when requested if she penned the e-mail to the WTA shared by CGTN in November that back-tracked her claims.

When requested about her Weibo put up, she stated “it is a query of my private privateness” and “there are loads of misunderstanding[s], so there’s nothing to say … about this interpretation and distortion.”

Lastly, she stated she wrote the Chinese language model of the e-mail to the WTA shared by CGTN, however her English “degree isn’t adequate to translate.”

“It is a translation, however the that means and the message within the e-mail I replied to Mr. Simon had hardly any distinction,” Peng stated.

The WTA stated in a press release to ABC Information in response to the video that these appearances don’t alleviate their “important issues.”

“It was once more good to see Peng Shuai in a public setting and we actually hope she is doing properly. As we’ve constantly said, these appearances don’t alleviate or deal with the WTA’s important issues about her well-being and skill to speak with out censorship or coercion,” the WTA said. “We stay steadfast in our name for a full, honest and clear investigation, with out censorship, into her allegation of sexual assault, which is the problem that gave rise to our preliminary concern.”

In the meantime, searches for Peng on the Chinese language web nonetheless yield no present outcomes.

ABC Information’ Karson Yiu, Christine Theodorou and Kirit Radia contributed to this report.

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