DHARAMSALA, 5 Nov: A Chinese tennis superstar has said that former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli sexually assaulted her.
Peng Shuai, a former tennis star has claimed that former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli sexually assaulted her following a round of tennis in Beijing three years ago on her China’s Twitter-like Weibo handle.
Though the 35-year-old former tennis star’s post accusing the 75-year-old former vice premier, a member of the ruling Communist Party’s, Zhang Gaoli sexually assaulting her ‘was quickly removed within 10 minutes,’ media reports said that the damage was already done by then as the allegations set China’s tightly controlled Internet ablaze as thousands of Weibo users were already sharing screenshots of the post across the country.
Peng has stated in her post dated 2 Nov that she had previously agreed to a consensual affair with the former vice-premier a decade ago. However, three years ago, when Zhang was retired, he met her again and pressured her into sex, reports visiontimes.com.
“I never consented that afternoon, I was crying all the time,” she has said and added that she then reluctantly agreed to continue the affair with him but was angered when Zhang insisted on it being kept secret.
Peng rose to stardom after she won the Wimbledon doubles title in 2013 and the French Open in 2014 alongside her Taiwanese tennis partner Hsieh Su-wei.
In 2014, she became the first Chinese tennis player to be ranked No. 1 in the Women’s Tennis Association for doubles.
The former tennis champion has declared that although she has no evidence to back up her claims, she is determined to fight on and speak the truth.
“I know that for someone of your eminence, Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli, you’ve said that you’re not afraid,” she wrote in her post, “but even if it’s just me, like an egg hitting a rock, or a moth to a flame, courting self-destruction, I’ll tell the truth about you.”
The Chinese netizens were divided after she publicly accused the former premier of sexually assaulting her.
While many Chinese citizens have praised her courage for speaking out, it has left many worrying about her safety.
The spokesman of the Chinese Foreign Ministry has refused to answer questions on the matter during a news conference on Wednesday.
“I haven’t heard of it and this isn’t a question about diplomacy,” The Associated Press news agency quoted Wang Wenbin as saying in its report.