Will the WTA Cancel Tennis Tournaments in the USA?

Currently, the West and its monopoly media are inordinately fixated on an allegation of a crime against an individual in another country, a country that is denigrated as a threat. The alleged crime serves as a pretext to punish that individual’s country, as if the country were the perpetrator or an accomplice in the alleged crime, or involved in a cover-up of the alleged crime.

The New York Times headlined a piece, “The Tennis Chief Taking on China Over Peng Shuai.” The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) chief Steve Simon has suspended tournaments in China over “the treatment” of Chinese player Peng Shuai. It reads as if China, the country, has mistreated Peng.

A WTA standard has been established: an entire country may be penalized based on an allegation (even an allegation purportedly denied by the purported alligator) of sexual misconduct against a compatriot — this despite no charge having been filed, tried, or judged to have occurred.

When allegations of a crime arise, those interested in justice being served must guard against jumping to conclusions, as due process demands investigating and weighing the facts. Given the timing (just before the Beijing Winter Olympics slated for February 2022), geo-political posturing might be a motivation behind this demonization of China.

This is exemplified by a statement issued on behalf of president Joe Biden by White House press secretary Jen Psaki: “We join in the calls for PRC (People’s Republic of China) authorities to provide independent and verifiable proof of her whereabouts and that she is safe.”

It starts with an allegation of sexual assault in a post attributed to Peng Shuai that appeared and was deleted from Weibo, a Chinese social media site.

An excerpt from a purported screenshot of Peng’s post, from what China expert Wei Ling Chua calls “a notoriously anti-CCP platform,” revealed:

那天下午我很怕,根本没想到会是这样,一个人在外帮守着,因为谁都不可能相信老婆会愿意。七年前我们发生过一次性关系,然后你升常委去北京就再没联系过我。原本埋藏了一切在心里,既然你根本不打算负责,为何还要回来找我,带我去你家逼我和你发生关系?是我没有证据,也根本不可能留下证据。

The part in bold translates to Peng saying “she was taken to the house [of the retired Communist Party official Zhang Gaoli] and forced to have sex.” The Chinese text is included because it is a basis for a translation by others. At least one translation, without the original Chinese text, appears elsewhere claiming there was no allegation of a sexual assault.

Since the post appeared, the situation has transmogrified from a “missing” Peng to a no longer missing Peng. Her subsequent public appearance did not satisfy the WTA. They want to hear Peng speak. Peng did speak to the International Olympic Commission and satisfied them that she was, despite the hullabaloo, more-or-less fine. The WTA was not satisfied. What does the WTA want? Peng wrote an email to the WTA:

Regarding the recent news released on the official website of the WTA, the content has not been confirmed or verified by myself and it was released without my consent. The news in that release, including the allegation of sexual assault, is not true. I’m not missing, nor I am unsafe. I’ve just been resting at home and everything is fine.

If the WTA publishes any more news about me please verify it with me, and release it with my consent.

Simon was still unsatisfied. He said, “Peng’s sexual assault claim must be investigated with ‘full transparency’ and she should be allowed to speak ‘without coercion or intimidation’.” There is innuendo in what Simon purports: a “sexual assault claim” — a claim denied in the Peng email — and that Peng is being coerced and intimidated without presenting any evidence to support this insinuation.

Peng is the person who can speak to what really happened. But must Peng leave her motherland to explain her personal affairs to the WTA? Peng asked that her privacy be respected. The WTA claims skepticism to the email and, thereby, refuses to respect the request for privacy. What should Peng do? If the social media post was an inaccurate venting by Peng, then to force her to come forward could be construed as the WTA humiliating Peng. But what about the demonization of China?

Ultimately, if Peng comes to the US and continues to maintain that “the allegation of sexual assault, is not true,” it is egg on the face of the WTA and its chief Steve Simon. It would also be an embarrassment for the others that have piled on China: the US, the EU, and the UN. However, western governments will all too often continue to unashamedly repeat ad nauseam their discredited lies, such as the genocide in Xinjiang or the Tiananmen Square massacre.

In the US, as in China, jurisprudence confers a presumption of innocence until one is proven guilty of a crime. What Simon and the WTA have done is to punish a third party, a party not charged with committing, colluding, or having been found guilty of any offense. Nonetheless, the WTA in its wisdom took the step of suspending WTA tournaments in China. In effect, the WTA has pronounced Chinese tennis and, by extension, the nation of China as being guilty of, presumably, laxity or indifference to the crime of sexual assault.

The WTA has now assumed the role of judge and jury for what it identifies as a crime against one of its players.

If a crime was committed against Peng, then she needs to file a police report. Chinese police, like police most anywhere, do not investigate cases that have not been reported or made known to them.

Wired has used the alleged incident to accuse China of censorship. Wired writes that the initial post from Weibo was scrubbed in half an hour and Peng and Zhang’s names were unsearchable thereafter. One can be forgiven if at first blink one suspects censorship. Do we know who deleted Peng’s post? Might censorship even be justifiable? It is too easy to complain of censorship, but what also needs to be considered is libel. If an allegation is untrue, then a libel has been committed. Sometimes an allegation may be true, but it is not provable in a court of law.

So what does Wired suggest: that someone who might turn out to be innocent of an alleged crime have had his/her name dragged through the mud — mud that tends to leave an indelible impression? Is this justice? Or should names and accusations be kept under wraps within the justice system until a determination can be reached?

Peng’s allegation, as she herself stated in the Weibo post, is unverifiable. (See above: 是我没有证据,也根本不可能留下证据。Translated: “I have no evidence, and it is impossible to leave evidence at all.”) If Peng does an about face and says she was forced to have sex with the former vice premier Zhang, it amounts to hearsay. The WTA is responding to hearsay.

Now to avoid hypocrisy. There is a corroborated complaint that according to the standard set by the WTA that calls for action. In the United States sits a president who is alleged to have committed a sexual assault against a former senate staffer Tara Reade. Unlike Peng, Reade came forward and filed a complaint with a congressional personnel office and much later filed a police report.

Reade is not a professional tennis player, but many WTA tournaments are played in the US, and since the WTA claims concern for the safety of its players, does it not behoove the WTA to suspend all its tournaments in the US?

And why stop there? It took decades for Larry Nassar, the former team doctor for the US gymnastic team, to be brought to justice. Nassar was accused and found guilty of over 260 sexual assaults on US gymnasts. Should all gymnastic events in the US be suspended henceforth by its governing body?

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The alleged allegation in the Weibo post is serious, and it must be handled in a serious manner. If the allegation can be confirmed, then the wheels of justice must proceed, and if guilt is determined for a perpetrator, then whatever punishment is merited must be meted out.

But the inordinate global magnification of the allegation is obviously not about a concern for justice. It is not about concern for the safety of a tennis player. This is about the capitalist West and its capitalist allies reacting to a socialist country soaring past them economically, eliminating poverty, and pulling off great technological marvels. At its core, it smacks of envy.

Kim Petersen is a former co-editor of the Dissident Voice newsletter. He can be emailed at: kimohp at gmail.com. Twitter: @kimpetersen. Read other articles by Kim.