Report: Open Tennis Champ ‘Vanishes’ After Sexual Assault Claim Against Chinese Politician

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A Chinese tennis player has reportedly vanished a week after accusing China’s former vice-premier of sexual abuse, according to reports.

Peng Shuai, 35, accused 75-year-old Zhang Gaoli of forcing her to have sex with him in a lengthy post uploaded to the Chinese Facebook equivalent, Weibo, earlier this month, DailyMail reports.

Peng, who became a household name after winning the French Open doubles in 2014, has not been seen since, the outlet reports.

The post was quickly removed and all of her recent content was scrubbed from the site, which is heavily censored by the government. The word tennis, ‘wangqiu,’ was even censored, the article states.

DailyMail reports that while China has been hit by sexual abuse scandals before, this is believed to be the first involving a high-ranking member of the Communist Party.

A spokesman for Beijing’s foreign ministry refused to speak on the subject during a press conference on Nov. 3, saying: ‘I have not heard of it and it is not a diplomatic question.’

Zhang was a vice-premier in Beijing and served on the ruling party’s powerful seven-member standing committee of the Politburo — the country’s supreme leadership body — from 2012 to 2017 during Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s first term in power. He retired as vice premier in 2018, DailyMail reports.

Peng revealed in the post that she and Zhang — who is married — had been involved in an on-off affair dating back to 2011, DailyMail reports.

Peng said in the post that she has ‘no evidence’ that the affair ever took place because Zhang insisted on keeping it a total secret, the article states.

Peng said in her post that she was involved in a ten-year affair with Zhang, saying he sexually assaulted her in 2018.

DailyMail reports that for a period of time, Peng’s profile appeared to be disabled and was not showing up in searches on the site, but her profile has since been found to be active and shows up on a Google search. The post is missing and comments on all of Peng’s other posts are disabled, though.

Comments on Peng’s posts are still disabled, and writing about either her or Zhang on Weibo causes an error message to show — the outlet reports that users are shown an error message stating the post violates “relevant laws and regulations.”

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Written by Megan Turner

Megan graduated from the University of Central Florida and writes and tweets about anything related to sports. She replies to comments she shouldn't reply to online and thinks the CFP Rankings are absolutely rigged. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.


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