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A Message from our Chairman: Statement on Peng Shuai, Missing Chinese Tennis Star

By: Randall G. Schriver |

Ms. Peng Shuai is one of the world’s top tennis players and one of China’s brightest lights. Today, we have every reason to believe that she is a prisoner of the Chinese Communist Party’s secret police. The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) has said it has not been able to directly contact her, and many of her fellow tennis players have voiced shock and grave concerns.

Just prior to her disappearance, she revealed that she had been sexually assaulted by Zhang Gaoli, a former member of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Politburo Standing Committee and top Xi Jinping ally.

This incident is outrageous and tragic on so many levels. Because she spoke out against a sexual predator who happened to be one of the CCP’s most powerful leaders, Beijing has disappeared her.

Peng Shuai’s social media posts and even her name have all been censored by the Chinese government. We fear she has joined countless others in experiencing the rigorous repressions and terrors meted out by the People’s Republic of China (PRC)’s one-party dictatorship.

In many respects, her case is not unique. It reminds us of China’s concentration camps, the ongoing genocide, the crackdown on house churches, and the Orwellian mass surveillance regime. It is also a reminder of what little recourse women have had in the PRC when victimized by powerful men. Mao may have said “Women hold up half the sky,” but they occupy zero percent of the Politburo Standing Committee.

But in other important ways, her case is special. Given her high-profile status as a world-class athlete, it demonstrates that even elite status and widespread public adoration offer no protection at all in China when you cross CCP leaders.

The disappearance of Ms. Peng forces us to confront the most somber facts of our time. It is right for all of us to have higher aspirations for the people of China beyond that which can ever be provided by the corrupt and cowardly CCP leadership. It is not possible to be both pro-China and pro-CCP – the daily contradictions implode such a construct, and we must choose to be pro-Chinese people.

As Beijing continues its preparation to host the 2022 Olympics, we hope all athletes, coaches, officials, and Olympic Committee members who are Beijing-bound for the games will pause and reflect on the disappearance of a fellow world-class athlete. We hope they understand Ms. Peng’s case is demonstrative of the cruel nature of their pending host government. Project 2049 has already objected to Beijing’s hosting of these Games. We repeat this message and underscore that it is not too late for the International Olympic Committee to change the venue for the 2022 Winter Olympics.

Project 2049 calls for the immediate release of Peng Shuai, for her safe return to her family, and for Chinese authorities to conduct an impartial investigation into the conduct of former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli.

The Honorable Randall G. Schriver


The Project 2049 Institute