Release Peng Shuai

Xi Jinping’s regime is engaging in a massive cover up of Peng Shuai’s accusations and the wider issue of sexual assault/harassment by CCP officials. This time it looks like it’s blown up in their faces.

Vincent Kolo,

Tennis star Peng Shuai’s disappearance and sudden staged/chaperoned reappearance in China has become a major international crisis for Xi Jinping’s nominally ‘Communist’ but in reality ultra-repressive, right-wing and sexist regime.

Peng’s case has shone a spotlight on women’s oppression in China. One in four married women have been beaten by their husbands according to the state-controlled All-China Women’s Federation. Feminist groups have faced a wave of attacks this year — with coordinated misogynistic abuse on internet encouraged by the CCP regime which has closed feminist websites and accounts and prevented these women from replying to the attacks.

China’s #Metoo movement has likewise suffered a number of defeats in legal cases where the victims have lost, and then been countersued for ‘defamation’ by their attackers. In September, the widely followed case of an Alibaba manager who raped a female employee was thrown out of court — the state prosecutors said he had committed “forcible indecency” but that did not constitute a crime.

On 2 November, Peng Shuai published a long post on her Weibo account which accused former Politburo Standing Committee member Zhang Gaoli of inviting her to his home and then coercing her into having sex. Peng’s post was erased after 20 minutes and her account has been frozen — it has half a million followers.

Like other women who have gone public with accusations of sexual assault, she was totally silenced by erasing all trace of the issue. Still today, three weeks after Peng’s post, the word “tennis” is blocked on China’s internet. The CCP did this to protect itself — Zhang, the accused attacker, is considered “untouchable” as a former Politburo Standing Committee member — and to maintain its strangulation of China’s #Metoo movement, which it fears because this issue has incendiary potential for the whole state.

Now, after three weeks applying its crude standardised kidnap-and-silence tactics, Xi Jinping’s regime has monumentally miscalculated, as it did in relation to Hong Kong, Covid-19, Taiwan, etc, and has triggered an international crisis that could threaten its hosting of the Winter Olympics which are barely two months away. Both the CCP and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) now fear that calls for a boycott of the Beijing Games are gathering momentum.

Peng appeared in staged videos at the weekend as the clamour of global protests escalated. These appearances were scripted, directed and shot on cue. Nobody should be fooled, and most clearly are not. They follow a long string of videos of detained Chinese writers, lawyers, activists, who deny they have suffered any coercion or mistreatment. The first video, which shows Peng in “conversation with a friend” at a restaurant, starts with a voice off camera that says, “OK, now is perfect…”. Then, a male tennis coach addresses Peng and casually mentions that, “tomorrow is 21 November”.

The (IOC) and its president Thomas Bach is upholding a century-old perfidious tradition. The IOC defended Hitler’s Olympics in 1936 against a powerful labour-influenced international boycott movement. Bach’s forerunner, the American Nazi-sympathizer Avery Brundage, infamously met with Jewish athletes in Germany in a similar staged “interview” to defuse worldwide concerns about the games being held, in that case, in a murderous fascist state. The athletes were asked if they had any complaints, they replied that they didn’t. The interview was conducted in the presence of armed SS officers.

History is repeating itself. Now the IOC is collaborating with the Chinese dictatorship to “interview” Peng and assure the world she is fine. Peng speaks fluent English, but in the video interview with Bach she requires help with her answers from “friends”. This incident lays bare how the IOC and CCP are multi-billion dollar partners in crime. Socialists and feminists demand the abolition of the corrupt, mega-profiteering, sexist and authoritarian IOC.

The protest movement around Peng’s case was not initiated by Biden or Western imperialism. It was started by Chinese feminists and then gained traction internationally. Tennis stars like Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka have supported the protests, and should be applauded. They reflect the powerful consciousness in society at large, not only but not least in the sporting world, shaped by recent years of struggle against racism and sexism and the suppression of women’s cries for justice. This has been added to by the horror of a dictatorship that disappears even internationally famous athletes, artists and political activists at will.

Biden and Western imperialism are now exploiting the issue for their own geopolitical interests. Fake expressions of concern for Peng and for the silencing of China’s #Metoo movement cannot hide the record of Western governments who defend a capitalist and patriarchal system that oppresses women, the poor and people of colour.

Inevitably some tankies are defending the CCP’s persecution of Peng. They claim that this is all Western anti-China propaganda. They say, Peng is safe and just resting at home, the accusations against Zhang Gaoli were fake, she has retracted them, etc. But if Peng Shuai or anyone else had falsely made such serious accusations against a top CCP leader they would already be in prison facing draconian punishment. A blogger who mocked Mao Zedong’s son Mao Anying in an online post is serving seven months in prison.

This shows that Xi’s regime is engaging in a massive cover up of Peng’s accusations and the wider issue of sexual assault/harassment by CCP officials. This time it looks like it’s blown up in their faces.