2020 Australian Open - Day 4 MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 23: Shuai Peng of China plays a backhand during her Women's Doubles first round match with partner Shuai Zhang of China against Veronika Kudermetova of Russia and Alison Riske of the United States on day four of the 2020 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 23, 2020 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images) Clive Brunskill / Staff
Clive Brunskill/Staff/Getty Images

News

Friday | December 3rd, 2021

It’s Friday, December 3rd, and this is your Morning Wire. Listen to the full podcast:

1) Women’s Tennis Association Suspends Events in China Over Human Rights Abuses

The Topline: Concern over the safety of Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai has prompted the suspension of all Women’s Tennis Association events in China.

Quote Of The Day: “We’re planning to suspend our events until such time that the Chinese authorities do the appropriate thing.”

– Chairman and CEO Steve Simon making the announcement this week.

Zhong Zhi/Getty Images

Background

On November 2nd, female tennis pro Peng Shaui posted on Chinese social media that a former Vice Premier of the Chinese Communist Party sexually assaulted her three years ago following a round of tennis, while his wife allegedly guarded the door. Peng’s post was quickly deleted 30 and her account was blocked to searchers.

Afterwards, she wasn’t heard from or seen in public for days, which raised concern over her safety, including from fellow tennis stars who posted to social media raising the alarm over her whereabouts. 

On November 20th, videos of Peng were published by Chinese state media, which showed her eating at a restaurant and attending a youth tennis tournament in Beijing. She later had a call with Thomas Bach, head of the International Olympics Committee, in which Peng said she was “safe and well.” 

Despite her assurances, it was widely believed that she was being pressured by the Communist Party to say she wasn’t in danger.

WTA Announcement

Following the IOC’s call with Peng, Chairman and CEO of the WTA Steve Simon said the video “does not change our call for a full, fair and transparent investigation, without censorship, into her allegation of sexual assault.”

In the past few weeks, Simon has stated the WTA is willing to to pull business out of China if her accusations of sexual assault are not investigated and “until we have a chance to speak with [her] directly.”  

On Tuesday, he suspended all WTA tournaments in China, including in Hong Kong, which is significant because the Winter Olympics are scheduled to begin in Beijing on February 4th. 

On Wednesday, the IOC said they held a second call with Peng offering their support, and they reported she was “safe and well given the difficult situation she is in.” But at this point, the WTA isn’t taking anyone’s word until they speak to Peng directly. 

Big Picture

This move is largely unprecedented. American sports leagues have been reluctant to stand up to the Chinese government in the past, largely due to the money they stand to lose.

Over the past month, Boston Celtics player Enes Kanter has been outspoken about freedom in Hong Kong, Tibet, and Taiwan, and now Celtics games have been dropped from streaming platforms in China. 

Qilai Shen/Bloomberg/Contributor via Getty Images

2) China Expands Surveillance System

The Topline: Amid continued concerns about China’s oppressive tactics, the communist regime is reportedly projected to have one surveillance camera for every two people in the country by 2022.

‘Traffic Light’ System

China will use a “traffic-light” system in its efforts to monitor journalists and “other people of concern.”

According to documents viewed by BBC News, the system puts journalists in one province into one of three categories: green, yellow, and red. According to the documents, those put in the “red” category would be “dealt with accordingly.” Yellow means people of general concern, and green means journalists who “aren’t harmful.”

The “traffic light” system would trigger alerts the moment journalists in the red or yellow category book travel in the Henan province.

Foreign students and migrants are also being monitored, with this technology including facial-recognition connected to thousands of cameras, linked to multiple databases of people already being tracked.

Data

Those designing the system are attempting to obtain massive amounts of information, including cell phone data, social media information, vehicle details, hotel stays, travel tickets, property, and all photos from existing databases.

The system is also reportedly expected to be able to identify people even if their faces are partially covered by glasses or masks.

Last year, reports stated the Chinese company Huawei had tested artificial intelligence software with the ability to recognize Uighur Muslims and alert law enforcement based solely on their racial identity.

Yuki IWAMURA/YUKI IWAMURA/Contributor/AFP via Getty Images

3) NYC Creates Supervised Injection Sites

The Topline: New York City will be the first city in the U.S. to provide drug addicts with “injection sites.”

The Details

New York City is becoming the first city in the nation to offer supervised injection sites, rather than handing out clean needles to drug users. Other major U.S. cities, such as Philadelphia and San Francisco, appear to be moving toward supervised injection, but haven’t opened sites yet.

As reported by the National Center for Health Statistics, over 100,000 people died from overdoses between April 2020 and April 2021 — an increase of nearly 30% over the previous 12-month period. 

In New York City, more than 2,000 people died from drug overdoses in 2020 – the highest number recorded in 20 years when the city began recording overdose deaths. In the first three months of 2021, New York City had almost 600 overdose deaths.

Facilities 

The facilities will be run by two non-profits who have merged to form OnPoint NYC. The city, and therefore taxpayers, provide funding to those nonprofits.

It’s not clear whether this option will be appealing to drug users. There are reportedly bathroom stalls for people to use drugs, and staff will enter those bathrooms if the users are inside for over 15 minutes. They’re then “encouraged” to sit in a waiting room in case they overdose.

Pushback

There hasn’t been considerable pushback from the Democrat-run state legislature or the White House. 

Under federal law, it is illegal to operate a building that allows people to use illegal drugs. While the Biden administration hasn’t endorsed supervised injection sites, it hasn’t spoken out against them either. Earlier this year, President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris released a statement saying they were committed to reducing overdose deaths. They did not specifically mention supervised injection sites but they listed “evidence-based treatment… and harm reduction efforts.”

Hiroshi Higuchi/Getty Images

Other Stories We’re Tracking

Germany

On Thursday, Germany announced a nationwide lockdown exclusively for unvaccinated people. The unvaccinated will be banned from most businesses, and will only be permitted to meet with a maximum of two people from outside their household. Outgoing chancellor Angela Merkal announced plans to implement a vaccine mandate as early as February, adding that vaccinated status would only last 9 months after the most recent shot, meaning citizens must get boosters to maintain their status. 

MLB Lockout

Major League Baseball locked out players early Thursday morning. The move follows the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement, and sources say negotiations don’t appear to be close. This is the first work stoppage for the league in a quarter decade.

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