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Who is Zhang Gaoli? The man at the center of Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai’s #MeToo allegation

Zhang, 75, was accused earlier this month by Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai, 35, of sexual assault at his home after he retired three years ago.

“I know that for someone of your eminence, Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli, you said you were not afraid.

Since retirement, Zhang has kept a low profile and faded from public life, and there is no published information relating to his current whereabouts.

“There was nothing outstanding about him.

But his low-key personality belied a tremendous power.

Born in 1946 into a farmer’s family in a small seaside village in the southeastern province of Fujian, Zhang grew up impoverished.

But Zhang studied hard and was admitted to the economics department of Xiamen University, a prestigious institution in his home province.

According to Chinese state media, it was while working there that he met Kang Jie, a colleague who would become his wife, though the report did not provide further details of their relationship.

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In the ensuing three decades, Zhang continued his rise.

It was in Tianjin that Zhang is alleged to have begun a sexual relationship with Peng, according to the tennis star’s social media post.

Then, the post alleges, one morning about three years ago after Zhang had retired, Peng was suddenly invited by him to play tennis in Beijing.

“That afternoon I did not agree at first and was crying the whole time,” Peng wrote.

“You said that the universe was so big that the earth was no more than a grain of sand in comparison, and that we humans were even less than that.

“I couldn’t describe how disgusted I was, and how many times I asked myself am I still a human? I feel like a walking corpse.

Peng’s original post sent shock waves through Chinese social media, and was deleted within 30 minutes.

His last public appearance was on July 1, at a grand ceremony celebrating the 100th founding anniversary of the party in central Beijing.

Chinese authorities have not acknowledged Peng’s accusation, and it remains unclear if Peng has reported her allegations to the police.

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“Having said that, there has been no party official of rank who has been expelled from the party based on a lifestyle offense alone.

Xi’s sweeping anti-corruption campaign has previously targeted senior officials — including a former Politburo Standing Committee member, but they were all initiated by the party itself.

Under Xi, the party has made an example of disgraced officials, including those who have abused their power for sex.

“As soon as he came to power, Xi underscored that officials should be honest and upright, and act as moral role models for society.

And because of that, Deng says he believes the party has likely already quietly launched an internal investigation into Peng’s allegations.

…Read the full story

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