China censors #MeToo claims against top politician

BEIJING: China's online censors Thursday scrubbed out a tennis star's reported allegations that a powerful politician sexually assaulted her, the first time that the #MeToo movement has reached the highest echelons of the ruling Communist Party.

Peng Shuai, an ex-world number one doubles player, purportedly made the claim about former vice premier Zhang Gaoli in a post on the Twitter-like Weibo on Tuesday.

Peng reportedly alleged that Zhang, who is now in his seventies, had "forced" her into sex and they had an on-off relationship that lasted several years.

The post appeared to have been deleted quickly and AFP was unable to verify the authenticity of the screenshots containing the allegation, or substantiate the claims made in them.

Weibo data indicated that Peng did post something on Tuesday on her verified account and the post was viewed more than 100,000 times, but the contents are unknown.

There was no further word from the 35-year-old Peng and also no public response from Zhang, a former member of China's powerful seven-member Politburo Standing Committee and reportedly close to Premier Li Keqiang.

Chinese censors have since blocked all mention of the claims apparently made by Peng, a former Wimbledon and French Open doubles champion. -- AFP

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