Things to know about ‘Where is Peng Shuai?’ World tennis questions the safety of Chinese players

Chinese state media published a purported email from tennis player Peng Shuai withdrawing a sexual assault complaint against a former top government official.

In a statement reply an emailWTA President and CEO Steve Simon said the email released by China’s state broadcaster CGTN “only makes me concerned about her safety and whereabouts.”

Since Peng made the statement, she has not been seen publicly, leading to concerns for her safety, according to the Associated Press.

“It is very hard for me to believe that Peng Shuai actually wrote the email we received or to believe what is being attributed to her,” Simon said in the statement. “Peng Shuai has shown incredible courage in describing an allegation of sexual assault against a former top Chinese government official. The WTA and the rest of the world need independent and credible evidence. I can’t verify that she’s safe. I have tried many times to contact her through various means of communication, to no avail.”

China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian on Thursday said he was not aware of Peng’s case, the Associated Press reported.

In early November, Peng said in a social media post that Zhang Gaoli, a former deputy prime minister and member of the ruling Communist Party’s Politburo Standing Committee, forced her to have sex, according to the Associated Press. According to the post, Zhang assaulted her at his home three years ago while his wife was guarding the door. Peng wrote in a post that they also had sex seven years ago and that she later developed feelings for him, AP reported.

The post, posted on November 2 on the Chinese social media platform Weibo, was deleted minutes after it was posted.

Zhang has been retired since 2018 and has not kept an eye on the public since, which is said to be common among Chinese officials after retiring.

“Peng Shuai must be allowed to speak freely, without coercion or threat from any source,” Simon said in the statement. “Her sexual assault allegations must be respected, investigated transparently, and uncensored. Women’s voices need to be heard and respected, not censored or dictated.”

On November 14, Simon said in a statement that the WTA commends Peng for her courage and strength, and said the WTA hopes the allegations “are handled properly, which means that the allegations are fully investigated, fair and transparent.” transparent and censorship-free.”

As a doubles player, Peng won Wimbledon (2013) and the French Open (2014), along with 23 other tour-level titles. She reached the semifinals as a singles player at the 2014 US Open.

According to The New York TimesPeng’s accusations are the latest in an ongoing #MeToo movement in China that has been met with a backlash from censors and law enforcement.

Peng’s disappearance prompted many in the tennis community to express concern for Peng’s safety.

Naomi Osaka sent a message on Twitter reading “#WhereIsPengShuai,” adding a note that she hopes Peng and her family are “safe and fine. I am shocked with the current situation and I am in shock. sending love and light to her.”

Novak Djokovic said he was “shocked” when he learned of her disappearance, according to SkySports.

“There’s nothing more to say but hope that she will be found, that she is fine,” said Djokovic. “It’s just terrible. I can imagine how her family feels that she’s missing.”

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