The popular Chinese social network Weibo was punished with a penalty of about half a million dollars from the Chinese Communist regime for allowing “information prohibited by law and regulations” that is considered to have been caused by the reporting of the scandal of Peng Shuai and former vice-premier Zhang Gaoli.
Shuai, an international tennis star, had accused via Weibo, the former vice-premier of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), of sexually abusing her several times, according to South China Morning Post on Dec. 14.
Following the sanction, Weibo’s shares dropped 8%. The social network rushed to write a statement in which it “sincerely accepts” the regulator’s criticism, assures that it will “earnestly comply” with the requirements and improve its network control.
Although the accusations were published for only a few minutes, they were enough for the scandal to go viral, causing international protests in defense of Shuai and becoming a headache for the CCP, which had to intervene.
For its part, the World Tennis Association (WTA) announced on Dec. 1 that it was canceling all its tennis tournaments in China in response to the drama experienced by the tennis player Shuai, who they say is not sure if she is being held against her will because of the complaint.
In this sense, the WTA president, Steve Simon, published the decision expressing: “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.”
Despite the Chinese regime’s alleged evidence of Shuai’s well-being, the WTA argued that it may have been made under the influence of the communist authorities and could not be considered evidence of the tennis player’s safety.
Even the European Union demanded credible proof that Shuai was safe.
“The EU requests the Chinese government to provide verifiable proof of Peng Shuai’s safety, well-being and whereabouts,” the EU’s foreign service said in a statement, according to Reuters.
Meanwhile, the Chinese regime’s iron-fisted Internet censorship was further tightened in September, when it issued additional guidelines on building a “cyberspace civilization.”
According to the South China Morning Post, these urged party agencies to “strengthen internet platforms’ responsibility” in determining how content is produced, published, and disseminated online.
These measures prompted analysts to say that an additional crackdown on online content was on the horizon in the run-up to the 20th CCP congress next year.
In Hong Kong, in particular, repression and censorship have intensified due to the controversial National Security Law imposed by Beijing last year to crack down on protests by pro-democracy and anti-CCP movements.
Thousands of Hong Kong citizens have been detained since the law was imposed, and many others have decided to leave the island for fear of reprisals from the communist regime.