Imagine if Adolf Hitler’s lover had been appointed by the League of Nations as special representative for the education of women and girls. History, and the Jewish and other women lucky enough to survive the concentration camps, would have never forgiven the League of Nations and the nations that had supported the choice.

This did not happen, but several media outlets have discovered all of a sudden that something similar is happening right now.

A Chinese woman called Peng Liyuan was appointed in 2014 as the UNESCO Special Envoy for the Advancement of Girls’ and Women’s Education, with the mandate of “supporting girls’ and women’s empowerment through quality education.” She has been quietly kept in this position until today.

When Peng visits countries on behalf of the UNESCO, she is often introduced as a “world-famous soprano and folk singer,” although as an artist she is unknown outside China. However, her talents as a singer are not the reason why she is a UNESCO Special Envoy. She is there because she is the wife of Chinese President Xi Jinping. She had already been appointed by the World Health Organization “Goodwill Ambassador for Tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS” with a press release calling her “a famous Chinese soprano and actress,” and hiding that she was the wife of Xi Jinping, then China’s Vice President.

Peng started “empowering women and girls” early enough. In 1989, the Chinese Army and State Security killed some 10,000 students in Tiananmen Square during the June Fourth Incident, including a good number of young women. Peng dressed in a military uniform went to celebrate and sing for the “victorious” troops in Tiananmen Square.

Peng Liyuan singing for the soldiers who “liberated” Tiananmen Square, 1989. From the Wayback Machine.

She was photographed in the act and her picture appeared in the official magazine of the People’s Liberation Army. Reportedly, the relevant issue of the magazine has been removed from Chinese public libraries. Hong Kong web sites with the picture were carefully “cleaned up” as soon as the new National Security Law came into force.

However, as in other cases, China cannot do much against the Wayback Machine Internet Archive, which is located in San Francisco, and where the picture is still available. The whole story is a testament to the CCP’s hypocrisy. Since Xi Jinping maintains that the Party in 1989 in Tiananmen did the right thing, why is he trying to hide his wife’s celebration of the carnage?

Few noticed that Xi’s wife had a Special Envoy role in a United Nations body until this month, when the “chained mother of eight” incident became the most commented media item in Chinese social media in years. This is one of the cases when the CCP propaganda was hosted by its own petard. Party media created the incident by broadcasting the story of a model citizen and CCP loyalist in Xuzhou’s Feng county in Jiangsu province, who had worked tirelessly to support his eight children.

After a few days of propaganda about this man, some started to wonder why the eight children’s mother was never mentioned.

Circumstances are still not totally clear, but a video appeared on Douyin (TikTok) showing the mother of eight emaciated and chained. In few days, the video had gathered more than ten million downloads. CCP local authorities have released no fewer than five official reports of the incident, with conflicting and contradictory information.

Initially, it was claimed that the woman was schizophrenic and needed to be chained to prevent her from harming herself and others—a good example of China’s commitment to “progressive” psychiatry. In subsequent reports, however, the Party had to confirm what millions of netizens had already guessed, that the woman was one of many victims of human trafficking.

Because of the (now defunct) one-child policy, in many Chinese families girls were aborted since as a single child a boy was preferred. After a couple of decades, this has created a shortage of wives. Brides have been massively imported from North Korea, but this was not enough. Human traffickers who “bought” or kidnapped girls from poor families and sold them to perspective husbands built criminal empires.

After weeks of investigation, the identity of the chained mother is still unclear, and she has been identified with different women who had disappeared. The extent of the outrage in China is difficult to understand in the West. In a country where protests are prohibited, there were demonstrations in the universities and reportedly even among female PLA soldiers. Public Security closed the area where the woman lived, claiming conveniently that there had been cases of Covid-19. In the end, the CCP announced that the husband of the chained woman, initially hailed as a model citizen, had been arrested, and even the high cadres of the Party in Jiangsu province had been placed under investigation.

The “chained mother of eight” scandal led some feminists, bravely in China too, to “discover” that Xi Jinping’s wife is the UNESCO Special Envoy for the Advancement of Girls’ and Women’s Education and call for her immediate termination. They mentioned the Chinese authorities’ failure to eradicate the human trafficking of women and girls, which has been tacitly tolerated as it helped with the shortage of brides.

This is just one of the reasons why Peng Liyuan should go.

It looks like a bad joke that the wife of Xi Jinping, who personally ordered the detention of millions of Uyghur women (and men) in the dreaded transformation through education camps in Xinjiang, falsely presented as “vocational schools” while they are in fact jails, is in charge of promoting throughout the world “girls’ and women’s empowerment through quality education.” Are Xinjiang’s concentration camps what UNESCO has in mind as “quality education”?

We at Bitter Winter and other media have documented time and again the prevalence of torture and systemic rape of women both in Xinjiang camps and in jails where prisoners of conscience — Falun Gong practitioners, members of The Church of Almighty God, Christians from house churches — are detained, as well as the routine rape of Buddhist nuns in Tibet. Is this the “empowerment of women and girls” for which Xi Jinping’s wife is honored?

Democratic countries can no longer tolerate this scandal. Peng Liyuan should go, or they should stop pouring billions into UNESCO.

This article has been republished with permission from Bitter Winter.

Massimo Introvigne is an Italian sociologist of religions. He is the founder and managing director of the Center for Studies on New Religions (CESNUR), an international network of scholars who study new...