The recent controversy over the sexual assault allegation made by Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai against a former top government official illustrates how the country’s human rights record is coming under increased scrutiny ahead of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.
Eva Pils, who teaches law at King’s College London with a focus on human rights issues in China, told The Washington Post that Peng is “the perfect embodiment of the fact that anyone can become a victim of sexual violence, but also in China, anyone can become a victim of this brutal suppression of critics.”
The newspaper reports that major corporations, sports associations, and events organizers have come under pressure in recent months to speak out against China’s human rights issues. President Joe Biden recently suggested that the White House is “considering” a diplomatic boycott of the upcoming Olympic games, which are set to start this February.
Yaqiu Wang, a senior China researcher with Human Rights Watch, told the Post that the country’s response to criticism and the ongoing situation in the country have made it hard for international organizations to determine “whether they are going to step on a land mine.”
She added that many companies and groups doing business in the country have concluded that it’s a matter of when, not if, another public relations crisis will occur.
“It’s harder to say, We are not doing anything political. We are just doing business,” Wang said.
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