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Friday, December 03, 2021
CEBU

Briones: The disappearance

On the go

I'M beginning to not like professional tennis player Naomi Osaka.

She’s a little too “woke” for my taste. Which, in hindsight, is kind of ironic since she hardly acknowledges her black heritage. Although she did support the Black Lives Matter movement. So I guess that makes up for it.

Whatever.

Anyway, I don’t have any illusions that this column will ever reach her. So why am I wasting time on her?

Well, Naomi recently gained worldwide attention for raising concern over the whereabouts of fellow tennis player Peng Shuai, who is from China.

Shuai “disappeared” after she revealed on social media earlier this month that she had an on-off consensual relationship with a former member of China’s Politburo Standing Committee after he coerced her into sex.

Naomi and fellow tennis superstar Serena Williams were worried that something had happened to Shuai. As a result, the women’s professional tour threatened to pull events out of China if the former No. 1 doubles player didn’t “reappear.” The United Nations also got on the bandwagon, demanding proof that Shuai is alive and well.

Well, she did and she is.

Shuai was seen at a youth tournament in Beijing, the Chinese capital, on Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021. Before that, Shuai had “stayed in her home freely,” according to the English-language Global Times, a newspaper published by the Chinese ruling party.

That should be the end of the story, right? Well, no. Some Western sectors are saying that the Chinese government had a hand in Shuai’s disappearance.

The Associated Press, an American news agency, said that Shuai “adds to a growing number of Chinese businesspeople, activists and ordinary people who have reappeared in recent years after criticizing party figures or in crackdowns on corruption or pro-democracy and labor rights campaigns.”

Of course, it doesn’t help that Shuai later retracted her accusation.

But here’s what the West needs to understand. It doesn’t have dibs on moral superiority. Not after what happened to Afghanistan, Iraq, Rwanda, or to Julian Assange, for that matter.

As for Shuai, she was born and raised and continues to live in China. She knows what she can and cannot do under the current system, which, by the way, has raised over 770 million people from poverty. The fact that she is alive shows that China is not a prison state.

Am I saying that China is right and the West is wrong? No. But at least the former doesn’t pretend to be morally high and mighty, unlike the latter which struts like it has never gotten its hands dirty.

Phew. I’m glad to finally get that off my chest. Sorry, Naomi.

Tennis, anyone?


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