Wednesday, December 8, 2021

What Peng Shuai reveals about one-party rule - The Economist

Last updated Tuesday, November 23, 2021 19:00 ET , Source: NewsService

IT IS HARD to see a good ending to the story of Peng Shuai, a Chinese tennis champion who on November 2nd accused a former Communist Party grandee more than twice her age of subjecting her to a coercive sexual relationship. In theory, the party deplores all immorality in office. When it suits the regime, propaganda outlets denounce purged officials for keeping mistresses as well as taking bribes. But China’s rulers care still more about asserting their authority, and their exclusive right to decide which rotten corners of their system to expose and which to keep hidden.

Ms Peng, who is 35, was doomed from the moment she posted her late-night essay. In it she accuses a former member of the party’s most powerful body, the Politburo Standing Committee, of imposing unwanted sex on her during an on-off decade-long affair. It is not the writing of an anti-party dissident. It is personal, even anguished in tone. It is filled with appeals to her alleged abuser, Zhang Gaoli, a former deputy prime minister in his mid-70s, as well as to her 588,000 followers on Weibo, a social-media platform. She notes that she left her family as a young child to enter intense sports training, and calls herself “extremely deprived of love”. She also describes herself as a “very bad woman” but insists that she never took money from Mr Zhang. Nor did she try to collect evidence of their liaison, she adds, though she recalls his paranoia about secret recording devices.

Only a small minority of Chinese...

Read Full Story: https://www.economist.com/china/2021/11/24/what-peng-shuai-reveals-about-one-party-rule

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