tennis star 1

A Tennis Star, 1




star (2) go away current (3)
double wealthy lead/led/led
release allegation hear/heard/heard
remain report (2) say/said/said
vice (2) post (4) write/wrote/written
site (2) affair (2) premier (2)
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coerce reference appear (2)
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fair (3) original seek/sought/sought
former presence investigation
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honest missing know/knew/known
tour (2) mean (3) see/saw/seen
quite previous good/better/best
slam intervene Grand Slam
grand watch (3) win/won/won
accuse prevent championship
none authority accusation
assault allegation take off the grid
annoy grid (2) take/took/taken
as well statement do-does/did/done
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aware note (2) go/went/gone
claim circle (3) apparently
foreign allegation write/wrote/written
doubt suspicion address (3)
cursor ministry correspondent
line (2) respond authenticity
worry concern spokesperson
CEO believe (2) whereabouts
receive justifiable disappearance
sign (3) attribute under duress
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Two weeks ago a Chinese tennis star accused a top Chinese government official of sexual assault.

Peng Shuai was one of the leading doubles players in the world, and since her allegations we’ve heard nothing — until an email was released apparently from her saying the allegations weren’t true.

But many many questions remain.

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The story starts on the 2nd of November. Peng Shuai posted on the social media site Weibo. She wrote about Zhang Gaoli, who was china’s vice premier from 2013 to 2018.

And she alleged that they had an affair and that he coerced her to have sex.

The post was deleted by the authorities within minutes, but online a screenshot of what appears to be the original post is still circulating. By the next day, all references to Peng Shuai were being scrubbed from the internet in China.

Ardie Bouwers, Director, China Circle: “When you search for her name on Weibo on China’s Twitter, in your search in Chinese you can’t find anything.”

Also the next day, the BBC’s China Media Analyst Kerry Allen reported on the official response.

Kerry Allen, BBC China Media Analyst: “In China you don’t really have officials they don’t have social media presences so you wouldn’t see Zhang Gaoli set up a Sino-Weibo account and comment himself.”

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And there was no official response in the following days either. But international pressure started to grow: on Sunday the 14th, a week and a half after the original post the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) released a statement saying, “The WTA seeks full fair and transparent investigation into sexual assault allegations against former Chinese leader.”

Tennis stars also started to weigh in. On the same day, the former world number one Billie Jean King tweeted that she hoped Peng Shuai is found safe and that her accusations are fully investigated.

And then this was the current men’s world number one Novak Djokovic on Monday.

Novak Djokovic, World Number One, Men’s Tennis: “It’s honestly it’s shocking. You know that that she’s missing. I mean more so that it’s someone that I’ve seen on the tour in the previous years quite a few times.

Peng Shuai was one of the best doubles players in the world; she won grand slam championships. She was world number one in doubles. She was very well known in China.

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But as Human Rights Watch notes, none of that has prevented the authorities intervening.

Sophie Richardson, China Director, Human Rights Watch: “Even people who are influential or famous or powerful or wealthy can easily simply be taken off the grid by authorities if what they’ve done has annoyed them.”

Well we now have heard from the authorities this is china’s foreign ministry spokesperson.

Zhao Lijian, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson: “I haven’t heard of the issue you raised. This is not a diplomatic question.”

And the authorities have stuck to that. This was on Thursday.

Zhao Lijian, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson: “My answer is very simple: this is not a diplomatic matter, and I’m not aware of the situation you raised.”

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But the story won’t go away and now we have this email apparently written by Peng Shuai herself. It claims that she’s fine and that the allegations aren’t true.

But there are serious questions about its authenticity: it was posted by CGTN, which is part of Chinese state media. And although it was addressed to the head of the WTA, the opening words are, “Hello everyone,”

And there are further doubts.

Robin Brant, China Correspondent: “There is a cursor as well on one of the lines; you can see in the image. So that’s led to suspicions that in fact it is a screenshot.”

Well the head of the WTA has responded saying the statement released today by Chinese state media only raises my concerns about Peng Shuai’s safety and whereabouts.

Steve Simon, WTA Chairman and CEO: “I have a hard time believing that Peng Shuai actually wrote the email we received or believes what’s being attributed to her.”

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So if the email isn’t real or was written under duress, the question remains, where is Peng Shuai?

Here’s the view of one China analyst.

Isabel Hilton, Visiting Professor, Lau China Institute: “Disappearance of this kind is is never a good sign in China. So yes, I think the worry is absolutely justifiable.”

And until we see or hear from Peng Shuai those worries will not go away.”

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Tennis, Badminton. Has Peng Shuai only focused and concentrated on playing tennis?

Soccer, Football. Peng Shui has not been seen in public since she suffered an ankle, knee, elbow and shoulder injury in early November. True or false?

Basketball. Did she make the allegation against the former vice premier in a press conference to a group of journalists?

Volleyball. Peng Shuai’s original post has gone viral and continues to circulate. Is this right or wrong? Are there millions of reads and comments about Peng Shuai, in China?

Swimming, Water Polo. Do only netizens care about Peng Shuai? Are only netizens concerned about Peng Shuai?

Track and Field. If a Chinese person is rich, powerful, successful or a celebrity, they have special privileges. They can get away with crimes or misconduct. Is this correct or incorrect?

Marathon Run. Has the Chinese government denied any wrongdoing? Has the government accused Peng Shuai of lying and fabricating her allegations?

Fencing. Is everyone now relieved that Peng Shuai is fine and well because of an e-mail she sent to the WTA?

Gymnastics. Are observers optimistic, pessimistic, both, neither or in-between?
Boxing. Competitive sports are very popular in my country. Yes or no? What are the most popular competitive sports? Are there sports stars, heroes and icons?

Wrestling, Judo. Are professional and amateur sports big business? Give examples.

Cycling, Bicycling. Are sexual assault and harassment serious problems in your society?

Skiing, Ski Jump. Can ordinary citizens freely criticize and complain about the government, ruling party, politicians and big business?

Ice-Skating. Money and power usually override the rule of law. What do you think?

Rowing, Canoeing, Kayaking. What might happen in the future?

Ice Hockey. What could or should people do?

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