Peng Shuai: Where is China’s missing tennis star?

Fears remain, although Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai claimed he was safe and well during a video call with the International Olympic Committee yesterday.

The sports champion, who won two Grand Slam women’s doubles trophies, disappeared earlier this month after making sexual assault allegations against a retired senior Chinese minister.

claims

In a post on Chinese social media in November, Peng accused former deputy prime minister Zhang Gaoli of sexual assault. She said a senior Communist Party official “forced” her to have sex.

Addressing the 75-year-old retired politician, a close ally of Chinese President Xi Jinping, Peng described what happened after visiting his home to play tennis. “I didn’t consent and couldn’t help crying,” wrote Peng, 35, that afternoon. “You brought me into your house and forced me to have a relationship with you.”

He admitted his allegations could not be proven, but wrote: “I have no proof… No audio recording, no video recording, just a distorted but very real experience.”

The post, which was removed from the social media site Weibo within minutes, showed for the first time that such an allegation had been made against one of China’s top political leaders. What happened next caused worldwide concern.

disappear

Peng’s disappearance shortly after making the claim sparked widespread concern that “international sports stars and governments have urged China to provide proof that he is safe,” he said. BBC. The UK Foreign Office has asked Beijing to “urgently provide verifiable evidence of its safety and whereabouts”.

This request was repeated by BM and other tennis players, including Serena Williams and other tennis players. Naomi Osaka.

Return

As global pressure mounted, controversial evidence began to emerge that Peng was good.

State-run CGTN released a screenshot last week excitement An email that appears to have been sent by Peng to the World Tennis Association. The email said his previous accusations were “not true” and that he was “resting at home and all is well”.

But doubts have been flagged about “strange language and cursor appearing in screenshot”, Guard reported.

On Saturday, footage “showing Peng dining in Beijing with his coach and friends” was posted on social media. Weather forecast.

And on Sunday, Chinese state media released a video showing the player being introduced at a youth tennis match in Beijing. A video of Peng signing tennis balls for children surfaced later in the day from other government media outlets.

Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of the state-owned tabloid newspaper Global Times, wrote amid doubts about the authenticity of the images and videos. excitement: “Those who suspect Peng Shuai is under duress, how dark they must be inside.”

Hours later, International Olympic Committee (IOC) chairman Thomas Bach spoke to Peng in a 30-minute video call, which was also attended by Chinese sports official Li Lingwei and Athletes Commission chairman Emma Terho.

The committee said in a statement that Peng “is living at his home in Beijing, is safe and well, but wants his privacy to be respected at this time.”

He accepted an invitation to dine with three officials in January, according to the IOC. 2022 Winter Olympics.

concerns

“Visible propaganda pressure” did little to lessen “the firestorm of global concern for Peng,” he said. CNN.

A spokesperson for the Women’s Tennis Association said the video call with the IOC “does not alleviate or alleviate” the IOC’s concerns about “his health and ability to communicate without censorship or coercion”.

The spokesperson added, “This video does not replace our call for a full, fair and transparent investigation without censorship, it is the sexual assault allegation that gave rise to our first concern.”

Maya Wang, senior China researcher at Human Rights Watch, said: “What we have here is essentially a state-controlled narrative – only the government and its affiliated media are creating and distributing content related to Peng’s story.”

Nathan Law, a pro-democracy dissident who fled Hong Kong to London last year, argued that the email, which appears to have withdrawn Peng’s harassment allegations, had “all the hallmarks of a forced confession, a tool favored by Chinese authorities”. Telegram reported.

“Every time a scandal arises, the Chinese authorities silence or attack the victim,” Law said.

Other experts told the newspaper that Peng may have been abducted into the government’s “Enforced Disappearance” program, officially known as the RSDL – Housing Surveillance in a Designated Place.

Critics of the Beijing regime reportedly often disappeared “while being questioned in an ordinary government building for several months.” They then “reappear in society with an externally different personality, replacing their courageous mode of resistance with an over-the-top respect for the Beijing authorities”.

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