Women’s Tennis Association retreats from Beijing’s anger, but can’t let the Chinese people know | Peng Shuai | WTA | International Women’s Tennis Association

[Epoch Times December 05, 2021](Epoch Times reporter Zhang Ting comprehensive report) The International Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) announced this week that it will suspend all competitions in China, arousing widespread international attention. On the one hand, the CCP voiced its anger towards the WTA through official media; on the other hand, it suppressed the news internally. The domestic people could not see the news about the withdrawal of the WTA from China, and could not find any public discussion on the matter, and there was no China. Any response from tennis fans.

CNN published an analysis article on December 4 that, contrary to the total silence in the country, the Chinese government-controlled media lashed out at the WTA on Twitter, condemning the organization’s behavior as being too exaggerated. Twitter is a social media that is blocked in China but is widely used overseas.

The article stated that the two seemingly contradictory approaches taken by the CCP to the WTA suspension overseas and at home reflect the WTA’s decision and the extreme sensitivity of the explosive #MeToo accusation that triggered the WTA suspension in China.

When Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai publicly accused Zhang Gaoli, the former deputy prime minister of the Communist Party of China, of sexual assault on Weibo in early November, the direct response of the authorities was to suppress information at home, but this approach has aroused fierce responses overseas.

The WTA announced on December 1 that all events in China (including Hong Kong) will be suspended. Despite the Chinese Communist Party’s official media fighting on Twitter, the domestic social media platforms remained calm and did not see the usual nationalist anger raised by the party.

David Bandurski, director of the “China Media Project”, believes that the CCP’s practice of keeping people out of the public and venting its anger to the outside world makes people “actually see (the CCP’s) despair”. People have seen that the chief editor of a state-run newspaper rushed out on Twitter. The key is to distract the world from the obvious facts.

On December 2, Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of the Chinese Communist Party’s official media “Global Times,” became the first government employee to challenge the WTA decision-but only on Twitter.

“The WTA is coercing Peng Shuai to support Western attacks on the Chinese system. They are depriving Peng Shuai of his freedom of speech.” Hu Xijin wrote on Twitter.

The Global Times also published an “edition” on Twitter in English, accusing the WTA of “bringing politics to women’s tennis.” The editorial did not mention what triggered the WTA’s first decision to withdraw from China.

This “edition” was not published on the newspaper’s Chinese social media accounts, but only appeared on its English website. But even so, it is still hidden on the homepage, a far cry from the usual display of editorials.

The Global Times stated in another English article that the China Tennis Association (CTA) expressed “outrage and firm opposition” to the WTA’s decision. But the strange thing is that the Chinese media did not report the CTA’s response, and the CTA’s response was not published on its website.

CTA did not respond to CNN’s request for comment.

The CCP strictly blocks WTA withdrawal news internally

At a press conference on December 2, Wang Wenbin, spokesperson for the Chinese Communist Party’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said in response to a reporter’s question on the withdrawal of WTA from China, “China has always firmly opposed any politicization of sports.” But on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website. In the official record of the daily regular press conference, the question about the withdrawal of WTA and Wang Wenbin’s response disappeared.

Soon after WTA announced its withdrawal from the Chinese market, some Weibo users supported this decision under the old posts of WTA’s official Weibo account. (WTA did not publish the Chinese version of its announcement on Weibo).

“WTA has a backbone!” A user commented, “Why this man hasn’t been arrested yet, his backing is really super strong. This is ridiculous.” The comment was clearly directed at Zhang Gaoli.

But these posts soon disappeared. On December 2nd, a search on Weibo for the topic of WTA suspension of the game had no results.

“Someone is busy deleting the post.” One user wrote under the third post, which was also deleted and comments on the post were disabled.

Expert: WTA’s decision is extremely sensitive to the CCP

CNN pointed out that Beijing has been concealing its anger towards the WTA from the Chinese public, which shows how serious and sensitive this scandal is in the eyes of the ruling Communist Party—especially since this incident will happen next year at the Party Congress and Xi Jinping is seeking a third term. Before.

The report quoted Bandusky as saying: “This is a bit like an external storm. They want to keep this storm outside of China.”

“For the (CCP) leadership, this is an extremely sensitive issue. I think this may be one of the most sensitive news events that have occurred in the past decade.”

The main concern of the Chinese Communist government is clear on Hu Xijin’s Twitter, where he accused the WTA of attacking the “Chinese system.”

Bandusky said that, fundamentally speaking, this is to protect China’s (CCP) political system. This is Beijing’s only concern.

“Because once they really talk about this issue in the country, people will ask,’So, what about Zhang Gaoli? Is this true? This is a high-level official, why has nothing happened to him? What happened to him? Where?’ And these issues will immediately involve the core issues of power and legitimacy (of the party).”

The CCP lacks confidence in its ability to gain public support

CNN pointed out that, to a certain extent, the comprehensive censorship surrounding the Peng Shuai incident and its adverse effects also exposed Beijing’s lack of confidence in its ability to fabricate stories and gain public support.

In the face of international criticism related to Hong Kong, Xinjiang, and Tibet, Beijing in turn condemned Western companies, organizations, and governments for interfering in “China’s internal affairs,” and at the same time incited nationalist sentiments on social media. This approach has won some domestic support. . But CNN said that the Peng Shuai incident is another matter. She is accusing Zhang Gaoli, the highest level of the Chinese Communist Party and former member of the Standing Committee, which may provoke anger and sympathy among Chinese people, especially young women, many of whom have expressed support for the victims in the previous #MeToo case.

Experts say that if the Communist Party is too afraid of trying to convince its own people, then any attempt to influence international public opinion will almost certainly fail.

Bandusky believes that there are serious news media overseas, and serious political institutions such as the United Nations and the European Union have issued statements on the Peng Shuai incident. The CCP’s overseas propaganda resources on this matter are limited. “I think it’s very stupid in this sense.”

CNN quoted Xiao Qiang, editor-in-chief of “China Digital Times”, a news site that tracks censorship in China, as saying, “China’s (CCP) publicity on this issue is like a paper box.”

“They want to use this kind of narrative to convince the international community, how ironic it is.”

Editor in charge: Li Yuan#



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