China’s Silence on Peng Shuai Shows Limits of Beijing’s Propaganda

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When the Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai accused a former top leader of sexual assault earlier this month, the authorities turned to a tried-and-true strategy. At home, the country’s censors scrubbed away any mention of the allegations. Abroad, a few state-affiliated journalists focused narrowly on trying to quash concerns about Ms. Peng’s safety. Beijing seems to be relying on a two-pronged approach of maintaining the silence and waiting for the world to move on. The approach suggests that the country’s sprawling propaganda apparatus has limited options for shifting the narrative…

Thomas Bach Is Criticized for His Handling of the Peng Shuai Case

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“What the I.O.C. established is that quiet and discreet diplomacy gets you better than clashing cymbals,” Pound said. “That’s not the way you deal with any country, certainly not with China.” It is unclear how Bach managed to engineer a call with Peng when the WTA Tour and others had been unsuccessful, though the presence on the call of an I.O.C. member from China, Li Lingwei, offered a tantalizing clue. “The I.O.C. has vaulted itself from silence about Beijing’s abysmal human rights record to active collaboration with Chinese authorities in…

Your Friday Briefing

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Good morning. We’re covering booster shots in France, Peng Shuai’s piercing accusations in China and the Pakistani madrasa that has educated many Taliban leaders. A French rush for boosters Thousands rushed to book appointments for coronavirus booster shots on Thursday after the French government said that health passes would soon no longer be valid without them. Amid a surge in new cases and rising hospitalizations, the government made all adults eligible for booster shots starting this weekend. The health minister, Olivier Véran, said that over 400,000 vaccination appointments had been…

Peng Shuai’s Accusation Pierced the Privileged Citadel of Chinese Politics

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Before Zhang Gaoli was engulfed in accusations that he had sexually assaulted a tennis champion, he seemed to embody the qualities that the Chinese Communist Party prizes in officials: austere, disciplined, and impeccably loyal to the leader of the day. He had climbed steadily from running an oil refinery to a succession of leadership posts along China’s fast-growing coast, avoiding the scandals and controversy that felled other, flashily ambitious politicians. He became known, if for anything, for his monotone impersonality. On entering China’s top leadership, he invited people to search…

Why Peng Shuai Frustrates China’s Propaganda Machine

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The Chinese government has become extremely effective in controlling what the country’s 1.4 billion people think and talk about. But influencing the rest of the world is a different matter, as Peng Shuai has aptly demonstrated. Chinese state media and its journalists have offered one piece of evidence after another to prove the star Chinese tennis player was safe and sound despite her public accusation of sexual assault against a powerful former vice premier. One Beijing-controlled outlet claimed it obtained an email she wrote in which she denied the accusations.…

How Peng Shuai Went From ‘Chinese Princess’ to Silenced #MeToo Accuser

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When Peng Shuai was a young tennis player in China’s national sports system, she battled officials for control over her own professional career — and she won. When she took on one of China’s most powerful men three weeks ago, accusing him of sexual assault, she found her voice silenced, erased from China’s heavily controlled cyberspace and smiling in awkward public appearances most likely intended to defuse what has become an international scandal. At 35, Ms. Peng is one of her country’s most recognized athletes, a doubles champion at Wimbledon…

Was Tennis Star Peng Caught up in Xi’s Power Politics?

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Photo from NY Post There is more than meets the eye to the affair surrounding the Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai, who disappeared after accusing a former top Chinese official of raping her. After a huge international flap, she has reappeared, telling the International Olympic Committee she is safe and sound. Although the affair has garnered worldwide attention, with the World Tennis Association threatening to cancel 10 WTA tournaments in China and lose 25 percent of its revenues, which amount to more than US$1 billion, it may be deeply enmeshed in…

Who, and Where, Is Chinese Tennis Star Peng Shuai?

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A simple question has gripped the sports world and drawn the attention of the White House, United Nations and others: Where is Peng Shuai? The Chinese tennis star disappeared from public view for weeks this month after she accused a top Chinese leader of sexual assault, prompting a global chorus of concern for her safety. Then, this weekend, the editor of a Communist Party-controlled newspaper posted video clips that appear to show Ms. Peng eating at a restaurant and attending a tennis event in Beijing. And on Sunday, the International…

Peng Shuai Said to Be in Videos From China’s State Media

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Nearly two weeks after people across the world began asking “Where is Peng Shuai?,” two questionable videos surfaced Saturday on social media of a person who appears to be the Chinese tennis star at a restaurant. The videos were shared on Twitter by the editor of a state-run newspaper, but the seemingly unnatural conversation in one video and the unclear location and dates of both raised questions about Peng’s safety and whether she was appearing in the videos of her own free will. A third video, said to be of…

The Question the I.O.C. Is Too Weak to Ask

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Where is Peng Shuai? That’s the question the International Olympic Committee and its president, Thomas Bach, should be shouting right now — loud, demanding, and aimed squarely at the leadership in China, set to host the Beijing Games in February. But instead of firm demands, we’re hearing not much more than faint, servile whispers from Olympic leadership. Peng, 35, a Chinese tennis star and three-time Olympian, has been missing since Nov. 2, when she used social media to accuse Zhang Gaoli, 75, a former vice premier of China, of sexually…

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