Another Reminder of China’s Corruption and Brutality: The Disappearance of Peng Shuai | National Review

Another Reminder of China’s Corruption and Brutality: The Disappearance of Peng Shuai | National Review


Left: Peng Shuai of China celebrates a point against Varvara Lepchenko of the U.S. during their match at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, N.Y., August 29, 2011. Right: Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli speaks during the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing, China, May 14, 2017. (Eduardo Munoz, Lintao Zhang/Reuters)

Normal people don’t like to spend much time thinking about the dire fates that await those who anger the rulers of brutal, authoritarian regimes – instant imprisonment, torture and abuse, no trial (or at least no fair trial), and often a summary execution. Certain regimes, including China, would sometimes send a bill for the cost of the bullet to the prisoner’s family – one final indignity to add to the supreme injustice.

Normal people really don’t like to spend much time thinking about the dire fates of women who attract the attention of the malevolent powerful men who run these regimes. The revelations of #MeToo demonstrated that powerful men in the U.S. had sexually abused women, with long-delayed or minimal consequences, in Hollywood studios, the private offices of major television news anchors, the music industry, and at the highest levels of corporate America and politics. Now imagine what happens in countries with no free press, no independent judiciary, deep corruption, and where there are effectively no limits to the actions of powerful men.

Unless you follow tennis closely, you probably haven’t heard of Peng Shuai. From 2004 to 2019, she was an accomplished tennis professional, ranked 17th best in the world in 2011 and 22nd best in the world in 2014.

On November 3, Peng Shuai accused former vice premier Zhang Gaoli of coercing her into sex, and declared they later had an on-off consensual relationship. She posted on her verified social media account, “That afternoon I didn’t give my consent and couldn’t stop crying… You brought me to your house and forced me and you to have relations.” Zhang Gaoli has been a powerful Chinese government official since the late 1980s, serving as vice premier from 2013 to 2018 and as a member of the country’s highest ruling council from 2012 to 2017. Zhang Gaoli is a longtime friend and ally of Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Shortly after posting her accusation, Peng Shuai disappeared.

Steve Simon, the CEO and chairman of the Women’s Tennis Association has been trying to reach her, but has not heard from her since the accusation went public.

“We have worked every method available to us,” Simon told Time magazine. “Voice, digital, tweeting. WeChat. WhatsApp. Text. There are plenty of different messaging things we all use and are all able to communicate with. And none of those have produced a result as of this point.”

Simon says the Chinese Tennis Association has told him that Peng is safe, and not under any physical threat in Beijing, but he wants to hear it from Peng herself.

There is very little reason to give the Chinese government the benefit of the doubt here. The Chinese government is not the laws-based force for stability and order that its cheerleaders in the West want to believe it is. The men who run China’s government are deeply corrupt brutes who enforce their will from the barrel of a gun, and who are willing to harm anyone who gets in their way — even one of the country’s most successful and famous athletes. They see other people as objects to be used and discarded as they please. They are no more ethical or legitimate rulers than the mafia or drug cartels. They just have a worldwide propaganda effort to hide or downplay their crimes, and celebrate them as poor boys who worked hard and rose to the top.

Peng Shuai made an explosive accusation against a longtime close ally of the man who runs the Chinese government, and then she disappeared. That is not likely a coincidence.

Then again, the Chinese government has asked the world to believe in a lot of coincidences lately.





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About the Author

Tony Beasley
Tony Beasley writes for the Local News, US and the World Section of ANH.