One week ago, an accusation of sexual abuse by the former Vice Premier of China led to a Chinese tennis player disappearing.

Peng Shuai, 35, accused 75-year-old Zhang Gaoli of forcing her to have sex with him in a lengthy post uploaded to Weibo, the Chinese Facebook equivalent.

It was deleted quickly and all the content she had posted on the site since then has been deleted. Even the word “wangqiu” (tennis) was censored by social media.

This is the athlete who was a household name when he won the French Open doubles in 2014.

While China has been rocked by #MeToo scandals before, this is believed to be the first involving a high-ranking member of the Communist Party.  

Peng Shuai during the Women's Singles first round match at the China National Tennis Center on September 28, 2019 in Beijing

China's then-Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli making a speech during the Philippines-China Trade and Investment Forum at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing in 2016

Peng Shuai, 35, (left, at a tennis tournament in Beijing in 2019) accused 75-year-old Zhang Gaoli (right, making a speech in Beijing in 2016)  of forcing her to have sex with him in a lengthy post uploaded to Weibo, the Chinese Facebook equivalent.

Peng Shuai

Peng Shuai

Peng Shuai (35), a Chinese tennis player, accused a top-ranking Communist Party official, of sexually assaulting and harassing her via her Weibo profile

Peng made the allegation in a lengthy social media post on Weibo which was quickly deleted before her account was heavily censored

Peng stated the claim in a long social media post to Weibo. It was soon deleted and her account heavily censored.

At a news conference held on November 3, the Beijing foreign ministry spokeswoman refused to discuss the matter, saying: “I have never heard of it” and that it was not a diplomatic issue.

Zhang was a vice-premier in Beijing and served on the ruling party’s powerful seven-member standing committee of the Politburo. 

Peng wrote that Zhang (who is married) and she had been in an ongoing affair going back to 2011, when they first met in Tianjin.

It is revealed that Peng had slept with Zhang twice in the same year.

Peng claimed to have been involved in a ten-year affair with Zhang Gaoli (pictured), saying he sexually assaulted her in 2018

Peng claimed to have been involved in a ten-year affair with Zhang Gaoli (pictured), saying he sexually assaulted her in 2018

After his retirement from politics in 2018, Peng invited Peng to dinner and then pressured Peng into having sex with him.

Peng recalls “crying” and refusing Zhang’s advances before finally relenting. 

Peng claimed that this started a three year affair which Peng described as unpleasant.

She admits that she has no evidence of the affair, but Zhang insists on keeping the secret.

It is also not clear why she choose to reveal the affair now, though her post concluded: ‘You’ve said you are not afraid.

“But even as an egg tossing at a rock or a moth to self-destruction flames, I will tell you the truth.”

After being uploaded to Weibo which is highly monitored by the Chinese government, the post was deleted within twenty minutes.

Peng’s profile was temporarily disabled and did not show up in search results on the site.

MailOnline found that the profile was still active. It also shows up in a Google search. However, the post is not there and Peng has disabled comments to all his other posts.

Posting about Peng and Zhang on Weibo can also lead to an error.

Peng is a household name in China after becoming the first Chinese woman to rank No.1 in doubles, and is currently ranked 14th

Peng has become a well-known name in China. Peng was No.1 among doubles players in China and currently is 14th.

Zhang is a prominent member of the CCP who until 2018 was a member of the powerful seven-man standing committee of the political bureau (pictured meeting President Putin)

Zhang is an important member of CCP, who was up to 2018 a member on the seven-man powerful standing committee of political bureau (pictured meeting with President Putin).

An error message informs you that your post is in violation of’relevant laws or regulations’. It does not elaborate further.

The foreign ministry of China has denied any knowledge and Zhang also has not replied to inquiries for comment.

 Lv Pin, a Chinese activist for women’s rights, tweeted shortly after the post was revealed: ‘They [the CCP]Always been decrepit and disgusting.

They’ve always been exploiting women, but it’s only that it’s been done behind black curtains.

‘Her revelation is very important, for it lets people get a glimpse of the real life of China’s highest leaders, their excessive abuse of power, corruption and their fear behind a moral façade wrapped in power.’