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For The First Time Beijing’s Hostage Game Backfired in a World Tennis Stars “Me Too” Case

The international focus on a top communist officials’ sexual exploitation against China’s women tennis star Peng Shuai is causing quite a headache to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Initially, the public attention was mostly on the world champion player’s personal safety. As the case developed, it has evolved into some serious political events from cancelling tennis games to political boycotts of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics against the CCP’s human rights violation.

Sexual assaults by government leaders are no surprise to anyone in China, but usually these cases do not make it to the courts or get the media to report on them, since the CCP decides which cases the courts should take and what stories the media should report.

As social media keeps gaining in popularity, the victims increasingly publicize their cases on the Internet, which is more effective in getting public attention than filing a lawsuit. Following the international “me too” movement, more and more Chinese women victims have stood up in recent years to tell their stories against the offenders who are usually government officials in powerful positions.

Up to now, Chinese authorities have been able to handle such issues with ease. They can take any position they want at will, depending on their needs. They can use it as a tool to get rid of officials they don’t trust within the communist apparatus. An extramarital affair is one of the most common accusations to take down a targeted official. They can also silence or even disappear the person who complains and mute the public voice to protect those offenders in power.

This Time, the CCP Applied Its Conventional “Hostage” Playbook, But It Didn’t Work

The top CCP brass probably had never thought that Peng Shuai’s post on Weibo (the Chinese equivalent of twitter) on November 2 about her encounter with Zhang Gaoli, former Vice Premier and a member of the CCP’s Politburo Standing Committee, would bring about a big international storm. Peng is a popular world-class woman tennis star. Zhang’s sexual offense to her is going to amplify CCP’s human rights violations record and embarrass the CCP.

Although her message only stayed on the internet for 20 minutes, the damage has already been done. Peng’s story quickly spread beyond the border and was picked up by the international media.

The CCP followed its conventional play book on crisis control initially: shutting down all the information and discussion of Peng Shuai. Peng disappeared from the public space. For the next 19 days, no one knew her whereabouts or whether she was still alive. It was as if she had never existed.

Most people were expecting the CCP’s next play to follow its standard practice of coverup. That is: Peng Shuai would be put on television and would make a confession, telling the public that her letter was a fake and that she was  doing fine in China. The CCP has played this kind of game repeatedly. Peng Shuai, like many others in the similar situation previously, is just a hostage held by the CCP. Once under the control of CCP, one has no choice but to follow the game plan designed for you. Even foreigners cannot escape.

Concerned about Peng’s situation, the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) spoke out before Beijing put on such a show, requesting Beijing to investigate Zhang, and more importantly, demanding that Beijing prove Peng Shuai’s safety and freedom in a way that they could verify. Other sports associations, athletes, and officials followed suit, asking China to offer an explanation.

After a period of silence, the CCP staged an email confession – a modified version of a TV confession. They published an email that they received “from Peng Shuai,” telling the world that the accusation was fake and that she was fine.

But a mouse cursor in the email revealed that the screenshot of this email was taken when someone was drafting the email “for Peng Shuai,” not at the time when someone received the email actually from her. The world laughed at it and threw the “email confession” into the dumpster.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) Came Out to Help, But the World Didn’t Buy It

Then on November 21, the  IOC released a video, in which Thomas Bach, the President of the IOC, had a video conference with Peng Shuai and that she was fine. The IOC video showed footage of a smiling Peng Shuai talking.

In the meantime, the CCP posted videos of Peng dining with friends and attending a youth tennis game. The CCP hoped the prominent IOC’s testimony would help to put the case to rest.

But again, there were  loopholes. Beijing officials sat in Bach’s meeting with Peng Shuai. When Peng Shuai was dining out with friends and appeared in the tennis game, the same people who looked like disguised security guards always stayed right next to her.

On December 2, the IOC released a second statement, while claiming its concern about the well-being and safety of Peng Shuai, again confirming the same message as the first video conference with Peng Shuai.

Despite the  IOC’s singing the same tune as Beijing,  people still didn’t buy the CCP’s story, since people have already gradually understood how the CCP plays the game .

This international learning came from painful suffering: the COVID-19 pandemic, which started from China’s inland city of Wuhan cost the world 270 million infections and over 5 million mortalities. In the beginning, the CCP covered up the spread of the virus  and told the world that it was under control; even today, the CCP still claims that the virus did not originate in China.

Not long ago, when the world asked for Beijing’s cooperation to investigate the origin of COVID, the World Health Organization (WHO) played a similar role as the IOC. On multiple occasions, Its Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus praised Beijing for its handling of COVID and WHO took no effective actions in investigating the origin of the virus though it did send a team to China. Tedros’s strong backing for the CCP earned him a Chinese nick name: “(Party) Secretary Tedros” (谭书记 – his Chinese name is 谭德赛).

It is not surprisingly that the IOC came out to rescue Beijing this time. Bach has been a long-term Beijing supporter. Several human rights organizations protested during the torch relay of the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008. Bach, then IOC Vice President and President of the German Olympic Committee, openly supported Beijing and even ran, himself, as a torchbearer on the last day of the relay. {1} In March this year, the IOC announced it will buy the COVID-19 vaccines from China, for the Tokyo Summer Olympic Games and Beijing Winter Olympic Games on September 17. Even though it is well known that they are the least effective ones on the market,the IOC urged the Olympic teams coming to the winter games to request more Chinese vaccines. {2}

The IOC’s involvement and position in Peng Shuai’s case has severely dented the IOC’s reputation. The U.S. Congress passed a resolution “condemning the IOC and the CCP’s gross mishandling and cover-up of three-time Olympian Peng Shuai’s allegations of sexual assault against a former senior CCP official and her subsequent disappearance.” {3}

The WTA, an International Organization, Is Willing to Make a Financial Sacrifice to Defend Human Rights

The most powerful tool that the CCP has been using to keep the international community silent on its crimes against humanity is money. It uses money or trade to entice people, companies, organizations, or governments to collaborate with it; or at a minimum, not to criticize it; and in the worst case, to retaliate against anyone who challenged it.

This bully technique works under two conditions: First, the recipient, up to some point, values money more than morality; and second, the recipient is small so it cannot stand up against the CCP’s economic might.

The CCP had been able to use money to buy souls for many years.

But things are changing. Since last year, the Australian government insisted on investigating the CCP’s accountability in spreading COVID-19 to the world. Even after Beijing fired its economic shot – the sanctioning of Australian beef, wine, and coal – the Morrison administration didn’t back down. Again, the European Union stood firm this year, in front of Beijing’s some level of economic retaliation, on its sanctions against the CCP’s officials who committed crimes in Xinjiang’s genocide.

Now this time, instead of waiting for Beijing to launch its “money punishment,” the WTA made the first move: It cancelled its games in China. This took money, Beijing’s most power weapon, out of the fight, leaving the CCP without sufficient leverage to coerce the WTA.

The WTA took a big sacrifice since China has been a lucrative market for it. But it tells the communist regime an important truth: THERE ARE SOME THINGS THAT MONEY CAN’T BUY.

Lithuania, a country of only 2 million people, also stood firm against the CCP. In addition to establishing a Taiwan Representative Office, which Beijing was fiercely against, it also announced it would not send officials to Beijing Winter Olympic Games. The U.S., Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, Kosovo, and Estonia also announced a political boycott of the games. Officials of New Zealand and Austria won’t attend it either.

Perhaps the IOC did what it did on Peng Shuai’s case to save the Beijing Winter Olympic Games. Clearly, between the spirit of sports and the games, the IOC and WTA made different choices.

Let’s ask ourselves: If we give up the Olympic spirit, will the games still be the Olympic Games?

The International Community Demanded the Investigation of a Highest Ranked CCP Official

There has always been fierce infighting within the CCP. But they had a consensus to exempt the members of the CCP Politburo Standing Committee – the highest CCP decision unit – from public punishment.

In Peng Shuai’s “me too” case, the sexual offender Zhang Gaoli was of that rank from 2013 to 2018.

There were reports that Zhang is a loyalist to former CCP leader Jiang Zemin, and that Xi’s group might throw this case out as a warning to Jiang’s faction during their inflighting on how to define Xi as the great leader in the Sixth Plenum of the CCP 19th National Congress in early November. One argument was that Peng Shuai’s long accusation article managed to stay on the Internet for 20 minutes before being taken out, whereas normally such a posting, especially against a top CCP official, faced instant removal. {4}

We are not able to verify the infighting, but we can observe clearly that the CCP didn’t want to put Zhang in jail – at least not yet.

The open demand by the international community to investigate Zhang puts pressure on the CCP and has a significant meaning. It tells the CCP: The CCP’s officials, especially those top officials, should be held accountable for their human rights violations and crimes against humanity.

This justice is a long-time-due.

Justice Will Prevail Over Evil

However powerful evil may appear, it will not last forever. We have seen signs of the CCP’s being weakened these days. We hope Peng Shuai’s case can set a milestone in the global anti-communist evil efforts and in uniting people to join forces to deal with the CCP’s coercion.

Shakespeare said, “To be or not to be, that is the question.”

We human being faces a more important question: “To sell our soul or not to sell it, that is the question.”

History will remember Steve Simon, the WTA, NBA player Enes Kanter Freedom, the Australian government, the government of Lithuania, and many others, for their courage in safeguarding their conscience and saying NO to the CCP!


{1} Sina, “German Olympic Games President Will Be a Torchbearer,” August 3, 2008.
{2} The Independent, “IOC urges Olympic teams to ask for Chinese vaccines,” September 17, 2021.
{3} Newsbreak, “House Passes Resolution Championed by Michael Waltz Condemning IOC, China Over Peng Shuai Situation,” December 13, 2021.
{4} Radio Free Asia, “Commentary | Wang Dan: Peng Shuai’s Case Is Not That Simple,” November 8, 2021.