Editor’s Note: The News has granted the author of this piece anonymity due to a risk to their family’s safety. The author is a University student with family in China who might be harmed by the piece being published with the author’s name. As a policy, the News does not accept anonymous submissions. However, we believed this piece could not be published without guaranteeing the author’s anonymity.
A month after Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai publicly accused a former Communist Party official of sexual assault, I still don’t know if she is safe and free. But I know how the oppressive regime will bury her: Peng Shuai won’t be made a martyr. She won’t be charged. She will disappear from the public, except for a few official publicity stunts. Finally, after months and years, she will be forgotten. Or so planned the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
As a concerned Yale student, who has to remain anonymous for fear of putting those I love in danger, I’m writing to you so that she won’t be forgotten. We won’t forget her. And I want to tell you what I think #WhereIsPengShuai is really about. If we trivialize Peng Shuai’s allegations as just another social media hashtag, what she did will be for nothing.
Peng Shuai is being punished particularly because she is a woman in a patriarchal society, but she is being punished primarily and predominantly because she is speaking directly against the Chinese regime — a party-state conglomerate that addresses criticism with terror. The regime has gone rogue; it no longer bothers with keeping up the façade of protecting human rights. The CCP now thinks that not only law, but also fact, answer to it, rather than vice versa.
To the fairness of the person accused, I don’t know the merit behind Peng Shuai’s allegations. That’s a matter of fact and law. But when the CCP is willing to bend both, she has neither. And without strong and constant international pressure, we will never hear what she has to say again, because there is only one language that the CCP understands: the language of power.
The Yale endowment needs to divest from China. The track record of the CCP has made it more than clear that every dollar of investment in China is unethical, until the CCP is willing to positively respond to, and act on, allegations by Peng Shuai and many others. Despite having a significant Chinese portfolio, which includes top-earning tech companies like Tencent and JD.com, the Yale Investments Office currently has no publicly available ethical policy specific to China or a review of its ethical implications.
To claim that the CCP is different from the Chinese people, as many multinational companies have done to justify their shady business, is not a valid defense. In China, every private company with three or more Party members is required to have a Party branch or committee that answers ultimately to the CCP, who has vowed to crack down on the slightest deviation from Party agenda. Shouldn’t we be legitimately concerned that Yale’s Chinese portfolio might create a conflict of interest between placating parties close to the CCP and using Yale’s influence to advocate for Chinese people’s human rights? Or what has prevented Yale, while profiting from China, from just releasing a statement acknowledging that the human rights abuse allegations even exist?
The Yale endowment needs to do some soul-searching. We are demanding answers to these questions, because we have a right to know whether our University that claims to uphold “light and truth” is playing an unethical role in perpetuating some of the worst human rights abuses in modern history – and whether our institutional integrity is intact when doing the right thing is hard.