Peng alleged in her Weibo post that she first met Zhang and had sex with him in Tianjin. She said that soon after Zhang retired, he got in touch again through a sports doctor and rekindled the relationship.
“You stopped contacting me after you were promoted to Beijing. I had wanted to bury everything inside my heart. Since you don’t intend to take responsibility, why did you still look for me, and force me to have sex with you at your house?” she wrote.
Peng also alleged in her post that Zhang’s wife, Kang Jie, knew about the relationship. As with wives of most of China’s political leaders, very little is known about Kang, including her age. The couple have a son.
HISTORY OF SILENCE
Zhang’s silence is consistent with how party leaders have dealt in the past with allegations ranging from corruption accusations in the Panama Papers to rumours of extramarital affairs, experts say.
Making a sweeping campaign to root out corruption a hallmark of his nine-year tenure, Xi has demanded that party officials “be able to pass the toughest tests” of political, professional and family morals.
Zhang’s only option is silence, according to Chen Daoyin, formerly an associate professor at Shanghai University of Political Science and Law and now based in Chile, where he has been closely following the case.
“If he denies, he won’t be credible, because as a result of Xi’s anti-corruption campaign, now everyone in China knows it is common for Chinese officials to use power for sex,” Chen said.
Typically, accusations of sexual misconduct by officials are only mentioned after an investigation for political or economic crimes, almost added as an aggravating factor.
Having struggled to gain traction, China’s #MeToo movement has come under fresh focus following the Peng case. No high-level party official has been similarly accused as Zhang.
“The party sees itself as above the law and is not accountable to anyone other than its leaders,” said Wu Qiang, a Beijing-based author, formerly with Tsinghua University.
“If he admits to Peng’s allegation, then Peng could become a symbol that China’s feminist movement can rally around, which can potentially pose a challenge to the power of the party,” said Chen, the former associate professor at Shanghai University of Political Science and Law.
Source: Channel News Asia