China’s 20th Communist Party Congress kicked off at 10:00 am Beijing time on October 16. The CCTV footage shows that many former CCP Standing Committee members were absent. Notably, Former Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli made his first public appearance on Sunday, October 16, since tennis star Peng Shuai last year alleged on social media she was sexually assaulted by Zhang.

According to Bloomberg, Zhang, 75, sat in the front row at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing for the opening of the five-yearly leadership congress.

Last November, Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai published her allegations in a post on Weibo. However, her post was quickly removed. 

Her post sparked a worldwide outcry over her safety and resulted in the Women’s Tennis Association suspending competitions in China.

The tennis star went over three weeks without being seen. The international  campaign then called for information on her whereabouts and wellbeing. 

One month after the incident occurred, the former tennis doubles world No. 1 appeared in public for the first time. When the reporter asked if she was being surveilled or monitored, she said, “I’ve always been very free.”

She went on to say that the post was a “private matter” and that “people have many misunderstandings” about it, but did not explain further.
During Xi’s first term in office, Zhang, 75, served as one of the seven members of the top Politburo Standing Committee from 2012 to 2017.

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