Jim Banks wants pressure on China over missing Peng Shuai

Peng Shuai


Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) called on President Biden Thursday to apply diplomatic pressure on China over the disappearance of professional tennis player Peng Shuai after she accused a former top Communist Party official of sexual assault. 

In a letter to Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and climate envoy John Kerry, Banks urged them to “raise to your Chinese counterparts … the issue of Peng Shuai’s safety and whereabouts and demand Chinese authorities to lift censorship and re-post Peng Shuai’s social media message that has been taken down.​”

​​”I would like to further ask you to suspend any high-level dialogues with China until China respond satisfactorily to our inquiries about Peng Shuai’s safety​,” continued Banks, a member of the House Armed Services Committee.

“​I also urge you to warn the Chinese authorities that China’s silencing and abusing Peng Shuai, if not handled properly, will have a negative impact on China hosting the Winter Olympics of 2022, and will only exacerbate the movement to boycott the games​,” he added. ​

Peng Shuai’s social media post detailing her assault was censored, and she has not been seen or heard from since.
Monika Graff/UPI/Shutterstock

Peng, 35, alleged in a Nov. 2 social media post that Zhang Gaoli, a retired member of the Chinese Communist Party’s Politburo Standing Committee, sexually assaulted her in his Beijing home three years ago despite her refusals.

Peng and Zhang had sex once seven years and ago and Peng admitted she had feelings for him after that.

Former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli
Former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli has been accused of sexually assaulting tennis star Peng Shuai in his Beijing home three years ago.

“I was so frightened that afternoon, never thinking that this thing could happen,” she said in the posting, which was removed from her ​Weibo ​account a half-hour later.​​

As Peng’s post went viral, the Chinese government blocked and censored various keywords and search terms, including “tennis.”

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Since Peng’s message was deleted, Banks wrote, she has “completely disappeared from public view and become unreachable.”

The accusation by Peng — who won 23 career doubles titles, including at Wimbledon in 2013 and the French Open in 2014 — was the first against a prominent Chinese government official since the #MeToo movement took hold in China in 2018.

“Peng’s allegation and disappearance have raised widespread outrage and concern in China and around the world,” Banks wrote. “No one should have to fear for their life for using their voice. Peng’s safety must not be compromised because of her brave act of calling out on a powerful individual.”

Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) has called for President Biden’s administration to exert diplomatic pressure on China to ensure Peng Shuai’s safety and wellbeing.

Zhang, 75, retired in 2018 and has largely disappeared from public life, which is common with former Chinese officials. ​


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