Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai publicly accuses a retired Communist official of sexual assault
In a post on Chinese social media site Weibo, Ms Peng said former Vice Premier, Zhang Gaoli, had “forced” her to have sexual relations with him.
It is the first time such an allegation has been made against one of China’s senior political leaders.
Mr Zhang has not responded to her claims. The post has since been scrubbed from China’s internet.
Searches for Ms Peng – a former number one ranked tennis doubles player – also appear to have been restricted.
Mr Zhang, 75, served as China’s Vice Premier between 2013 and 2018 and was a close ally of Chinese President Xi Jinping.
“I know that someone of your eminence, Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli, you’ll say that you’re not afraid”, Ms Peng wrote in her post, “but even if it’s just striking a stone with a pebble, or a moth attacking a flame and courting self destruction, I will tell the truth about you.”
She said he had first coerced her after she visited his home to play tennis. “That afternoon I didn’t give my consent and couldn’t stop crying,” she wrote. “You brought me to your house and forced me and you to have relations”.
Ms Peng, 35, acknowledged that she would not be able to provide proof to back up her claims.
“I have no evidence, and it has been impossible to leave any evidence… You were always afraid that I would bring something like a tape recorder, to record evidence or something… There is no audio record, no video record, only my distorted but very real experience.”