Peng Shuai, Jack Ma … These 7 Chinese celebrities disappeared after criticizing Beijing

Peng Shuai appears to have disappeared after claiming that a Chinese politician sexually assaulted her. The Chinese tennis star is among an alarming number of Chinese celebrities who have gone missing. Others have vanished after making critical comments about the Beijing government or powerful people within the Chinese Communist Party.

This is not the first time that this kind of disappearance questions in China. A few months ago, Jack Ma, billionaire co-founder of Alibaba, did not give any sign of life, after being in the sights of the authorities. He was seen in Spain last October. Forbes magazine reported that the Global Times – China’s state newspaper – quoted the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, a powerful investigative body of the Chinese Communist Party, as saying, “We must work together to set rules for celebrity words and deeds and curb the barbaric growth of entertainment. “

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Here is a list of personalities who “disappeared” after criticizing the Chinese government:

Peng Shuai disappeared after announcing she was sexually assaulted by senior Chinese politician

Peng Shuai Andy Brownbill/AP

The world has not heard from Peng Shuai since she accused a senior Chinese official of sexual assault. The 35-year-old tennis player is one of the biggest sports stars in China.

In a message posted on November 2 on the Weibo social network, Peng Shuai claimed that former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli had forced her to have sex and that they had an affair. The message was subsequently removed and references to Peng Shuai were blocked on the Chinese internet, according to the Guardian.

We haven’t heard from her again and we haven’t seen her since. American tennis star Noami Osaka raised concerns over Peng’s disappearance in a tweet posted on Tuesday using the hashtag #WhereisPengShuai.

“I was recently informed that another tennis player was missing shortly after revealing that she had been sexually abused,” Noami Osaka tweeted. “Censorship is never acceptable at any cost, I hope Peng Shuai and his family are safe and doing well. I am in shock at the current situation and send love and light on its way. “

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Actress Zhao Wei has been blacklisted from social media and it’s unclear where she is

Famous actress Zhao Wei Vincent Yu / AP

Chinese actress Zhao Wei mysteriously disappeared in August, according to the Hollywood Reporter, after authorities in Beijing apparently blacklisted her on social media. The actress has also been removed from popular streaming sites.

The Wall Street Journal reported that this was part of the Chinese Communist Party’s desire to cleanse the pop culture industry from what it sees as “unhealthy influences for young people.”

Rumors have circulated that Zhao Wei fled to France with her husband, where they both own a vineyard near Bordeaux. The actress denied the rumors in a since-deleted Instagram post, claiming she was with her family in Beijing, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Artist Ai Weiwei Disappeared and Detained for Months After Criticizing the Government

The dissident artist Ai Weiwei David Gray/Reuters

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei has long been considered a dissident who has criticized the Chinese Communist Party. He posted criticism of the Chinese government on a blog that was eventually taken down and was later assaulted by Chinese police in 2009, according to the Britannica site.

The artist disappeared in April 2011 after being accused of tax evasion and the police detained him for nearly three months, according to Human Rights Watch. He was unable to speak to his lawyer, and his wife was allowed to visit him once, the NGO reported.

After protests on his behalf, Ai Weiwei was released in June 2011. The government said he was released “because of his good attitude when he confessed to his crimes as well as a chronic illness he suffers from. “, according to Reuters.

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E-commerce billionaire Jack Ma faded from the public eye after criticizing China’s financial industry

Billionaire Jack Ma Firdia Lisnawati/AP

Jack Ma, a high-profile Chinese entrepreneur and founder of Alibaba, disappeared from the public eye after criticizing the Chinese financial industry in a speech in Shanghai in October 2020.

Days later, the Chinese government ordered investigations into the companies of Jack Ma, Alibaba and Ant Group, and tightened regulations. The move was seen as an attempt by the government to take back control of the tech giants who wield economic and political power.

After vanishing for more than two months, the entrepreneur reappeared in a video from January 2021 that made no mention of his disappearance. Forbes magazine said Jack Ma was “unusually flat and low-key” in the video. Jack Ma’s subsequent appearances have been scattered and unconfirmed, and the Financial Times later reported that the billionaire was simply “keeping a low profile.”

In October 2021, Jack Ma was seen in Spain, on his first trip outside of China since tensions with the government began.

Billionaire Whitney Duan disappeared and did not give a sign of life for four years, as her ex-husband, tycoon Desmond Shum, was set to publish a book on corruption in China

Whitney Duan and her ex-husband Desmond Shum were closely linked to Chinese elites and involved in several major developments in Beijing, Time magazine reported. In 2017, Whitney Duan, also known as Duan Weihong, disappeared in Beijing without a trace.

The disappearance came after she spoke to The New York Times in a 2012 investigation which found that many close to then-prime minister Wen Jiabao had grown excessively wealthy over the course of his political career, controlling at least $ 2.7 billion (€ 2.3 billion) in assets. Whitney Duan herself has been implicated in the scandal, although she has denied having any financial ties to the Chinese premier.

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After Whitney Duan disappeared, Desmond Shum told Time magazine he had been unable to get in touch with her for four years. He left the country and has not returned since the disappearance of his ex-wife.

Then, in September 2021, Desmond Shum told Time that he had received messages from Whitney Duan prompting him to call him. He did, and for the first time in four years his line wasn’t cut. Desmond Shum said Whitney Duan begged him not to publish his recent book “Red Roulette: An Insider’s Story of Wealth, Power, Corruption, and Vengeance in Today’s China,” which details corruption within the Communist Party. Chinese.

She asked me to stop the book launch saying, “How would you feel if something happened to our son? And what would happen to our son if something happened to me?” I took it for a threat, ”Desmond Shum told Time.

Forbes pointed to a disturbing trend: Several billionaires and wealthy tycoons have disappeared from the public sphere for some time. Some have reportedly been detained to assist with investigations.

Real estate mogul Ren Zhiqiang disappeared after criticizing Chinese government for handling pandemic

Ren Zhiqiang Sentenced to 18 Years in Prison Getty Images

Real estate mogul Ren Zhiqiang disappeared in March 2020 after writing an essay criticizing the Chinese government for its handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, calling President Xi Jinping a “clown.”

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Soon after, his friends told the New York Times that he was missing. He was then sentenced to 18 years in prison after a court found him guilty of a litany of financial crimes, but his peers said the sentence was linked to his trial.

“Very clearly, it was a punishment for his words, it will be obvious to everyone,” sociologist Guo Yuhua told The Times. “These economic problems – this one, that one – can be cooked up whenever you want.”

Human Rights Lawyer Wang Quanzhang Detained in 2015 Crackdown on Chinese Activists

Thomas Peter/Reuters

Wang Quanzhang, a Chinese human rights lawyer, was detained with 200 others in 2015 amid a crackdown on activism in the country. He was found guilty of “subversion of state power” in a closed court without the presence of foreign journalists or diplomats, according to the BBC.

For three years, his family did not know where he was or if he was still alive. “I don’t know if he’s alive or dead,” his wife Li Wenzu told the BBC in 2017. “I had no information at all. He just disappeared from the face of the Earth. C is so scary, so brutal. “

Li Wenzu added that Wang Quanzhang was not “allowed to meet with the lawyer we hired for him, and he is not allowed to communicate with the outside world.” Wang Quanzhang was released in April 2020.

Original version: Katie Balevic / Insider

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