The disappearance of the Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai has dominated international news in recent days, but inside China there is barely a whisper.
Peng – the former doubles World No 1 – has not been heard from in more than two weeks, since she posted a lengthy statement to Weibo accusing the country’s former vice-premier, Zhang Gaoli, of sexually assaulting her.
In the 2 November post, Peng said she and Zhang, now 75, had for several years had an on-off extramarital “relationship”. Peng said Zhang had stopped contacting her after he rose in the ranks of the Communist party, but then about three years ago invited her to play tennis with him and his wife and then sexually assaulted her in his house.
The post disappeared in less than half an hour, comments were disabled on her account, references to her removed from China’s internet, and even the most innocuously related keywords such as “tennis” were censored on social media. Continue