For decades, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has violated human rights. The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) took a firm stance against this authoritarian regime.
In early November, the tennis player considered the best doubles player in tennis made a post on a Chinese social network alleging that China’s former vice premier, Zhang Gaoli, sexually abused her on more than one occasion.
The post was only online for 20 minutes but it was enough for other users to spread the news outside China. In just a few hours the news accumulated more than 32 million views.
Due to the player’s high profile, the case gained international attention, and the WTA, U.S. congressmen, and European bloc leaders began a campaign to pressure Beijing to prove that Peng Shuai was safe and sound.
However, The CCP acted quickly to put a stop to the tale.
During the Chinese cover-up, Peng “disappeared from public view” for several weeks.
Then, The CCP state media began publishing emails, photos, and videos of Peng looking happy and accompanying her family.
In one email to the WTA, Peng Shuai not only claimed that she was fine but also denied that the allegations she made about the sexual abuse she suffered were true: “The allegation of sexual assault, is not true. I’m not missing, nor am I unsafe,” she wrote.
However, Steve Simon, president of the WTA, considered that both the email and the photos and videos were made under the influence of the communist authorities and could not be regarded as evidence of the tennis player’s well-being. He believes there is still something shady going on.
As a result of the CCP’s actions, he said, he and the WTA Board of Directors announced “the immediate suspension of all WTA tournaments in China.”
“In good conscience, I don’t see how I can ask our athletes to compete there when Peng Shuai is not allowed to communicate freely and has seemingly been pressured to contradict her allegation of sexual assault,” Simon said.
“Given the current state of affairs, I am also greatly concerned about the risks that all of our players and staff could face if we were to hold events in China in 2022,” he added.
Peng is far from the sole victim of the CCP.
According to CNN, the United States State Department projected in October that up to 2 million Uighurs and other minorities in China had been placed into detention camps since 2017.
Given the Chinese government’s genocide of Uighurs and repression of any information that could hurt the communist system, the WTA made the correct option in withdrawing its events from China. Unfortunately, at least one major American sports league has yet to cut ties with China or condemn its authoritarian regime, according to the western journal.
Enes Kanter Freedom of the Boston Celtics has been vocal in his criticism of Chinese persecution and the NBA’s ties with the country. While he claimed that NBA Commissioner Adam Silver had not prohibited him from speaking out, he also claimed that Silver and the league had not backed him up.
“If they were really supporting me, they would have put something out there,” Freedom told CNN in October. “They would have put out some kind of statement.”
Kanter said that “organizations like NBA, NFL, NHL, MLS, MLB” should note how the Women’s Tennis Association is standing up to China because “people’s lives … is way more important than the business side of it.”
Nike, the NBA’s official apparel provider, is one of several western firms that have come under fire from Beijing after raising concerns over accusations of forced labor in cotton production in Xinjiang, China’s northwest province. Nike stated in a statement that it does not handle cotton sourcing in the county “directly.”
The statement read, ‘While Nike does not directly source cotton or other raw materials, traceability at the raw materials level is an area of ongoing focus. “We are working closely with our suppliers, industry associations, brands, and other stakeholders to pilot traceability approaches and map material sources so we can have confidence the materials in our products are responsibly produced,” the statement further added, reported Republic world.