New details regarding former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli and Chinese Olympian Peng Shuai's relationship have emerged.
According to reports, Zhang and Peng had an alleged relationship over an intermittent period that lasted over a decade. Earlier this month, Peng accused Zhang of sexual misconduct before she disappeared for two weeks. The two-time Grand Slam doubles champion posted her text exchanges with Zhang on Weibo, but it was immediately deleted.
Peng Shuai's text message translated, released
Now, a translation of Peng's text messages has just been released. In her text message, Peng asked Zhang why he forced her to go to his house and share an intimate moment with the 75-year-old.
"I know that for someone of your eminence, Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli, you said you were not afraid. But even if it's just me, like an egg hitting the stone, a moth flying into flames, courting self-destruction, I would tell the truth about us," Peng said via CNN.
The publication claimed that the Chinese government tried its best to silence the athlete's allegations with blanket censorship. But they were forced to allow Peng to appear in a video call after the women's tennis world demanded answers regarding her whereabouts.
Who is Zhang Gaoli?
Zhang was the one in charge of organizing the 2022 Winter Olympics. As the head of a government working group in charge of the Beijing Olympics, Zhang regularly met with athletes. He also inspected venue construction sites, held several meetings, and unveiled official emblems.
In 2016, Zhang promised International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach to make the games fantastic, extraordinary, and excellent.
Bach was the one that spoke to Peng earlier this week via video call. And photos of their conversation were later shared online. The snaps show Bach's back turned toward the camera, while Peng has a huge smile on her face.
According to Reuters, Peng's appearance in photos and video calls failed to dispel doubts among other athletes and other global organizations over her welfare.
Why has Zhang Gaoli not responded to Peng Shuai's allegations?
Alfred Wu, associate professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in Singapore, believes that the Olympics prevents Zhang from speaking out because doing so would result in a reputational loss ahead of the Winter Games.
Wu also said that the IOC's internal disciplinary action against Zhang, if there were any, won't be announced to the public. After all, the heads of the Olympics would most likely want to wait until after the issues have died down before they make an announcement.
Who is Peng Shuai?
Peng is a prominent Chinese athlete with almost $10 million in career prize money. The 35-year-old first played tennis when she was eight years old after her uncle introduced her to the sport.
Peng debuted at the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) in 2001. Throughout her career, she has already won 25 titles in singles and doubles. She has also participated in three Olympic Games.
In 2014, Peng became the first Chinese player to become the world number one in doubles, according to the BBC.