Ms. Peng’s case is the primary #MeToo accusation leveled in opposition to somebody inside the highest ranks of energy in China, the Politburo Standing Committee. It has highlighted the nation’s swaggering confidence in its capacity to suppress all criticism, together with from girls who’ve come ahead with accusations of misconduct.

“She is definitely not the first one to be forced into silence and disappeared,” Lü Pin, an activist who based the now-banned Chinese on-line discussion board Feminist Voices, wrote in a message from New Jersey, the place she now lives. “This kind of encounter is absolutely not uncommon in China now. The authorities have too much power and no one can hold them accountable.”

What has elevated Ms. Peng’s case is her movie star at residence. As she skyrocketed via the ranks {of professional} tennis, she was as soon as held up by the Chinese authorities as a mannequin athlete. “She is like a breeze in women’s tennis,” the People’s Daily, the primary newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party, wrote in 2013. “She’ll always be our Chinese princess.”

That was shortly after she and her doubles associate, Hsieh Su-wei of Taiwan, received the championship at Wimbledon. They received once more on the French Open in 2014, the yr she reached the semifinals of the U.S. Open as a singles participant and was lauded by officers as a “golden flower” of Chinese sports activities.

On Nov. 2, her accusation turned a thorn within the authorities’s facet.

In a protracted, at occasions disjointed submit revealed on her verified social media account that night time, Ms. Peng described an on-and-off relationship with Mr. Zhang, a former provincial governor who served as certainly one of seven members of the Politburo Standing Committee between 2012 and 2017. When he stepped down, her submit mentioned, they reunited and he assaulted her after inviting her to play tennis with him and his spouse.

Ms. Peng, 35, described feeling powerless in making accusations in opposition to such a politically highly effective man. In the account, which has not been corroborated, Ms. Peng acknowledged that she couldn’t present proof.

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