lørdag 20. november 2021

The suspicious disappearance of tennis star Peng Shuai is straight out of China's playbook for forcing rogue celebrities into submission

The tennis star Peng Shuai, "X-Men" actress Fan Bingbing, and Alibaba founder Jack Ma were darlings of the Chinese state, symbols that Beijing's reach extended to Hollywood and Wall Street. What the trio also have in common is that they vanished without notice after defying Beijing or embarrassing the nation. This tactic — which comes alongside a mass, unopposed crackdown on lawyers, activists, and state critics — appears to be Beijing's go-to strategy to tackle disloyalty and prevent rebellion.

Fan vanished for three months in 2018 following revelations that she dodged millions of dollars in tax, only to return with a grovelling apology. Ma vanished for the same period in late 2020 after he criticized China's reluctance to innovate, coming back to say he had been "studying and thinking."