A Chinese professional tennis player not seen in public since she accused a former top government official of sexual assault purportedly sent an email claiming she was safe and that the allegation was false.
A Chinese professional tennis player not seen in public since she accused a former top government official of sexual assault purportedly sent an email claiming she was safe and that the allegation was false, a message that only amplified concerns about her safety and demands for information about her well-being and whereabouts.
So far, Email Raise calls have been met by silence.
Chinese officials have said nothing publicly since the accusation about two weeks ago by Grand Slam doubles champion Peng Shuai that she was sexually assaulted by Zhang Gaoli. The first #MeToo case to reach the political realm in China has not been reported by the domestic media and online discussion of it has been highly censored of Email Raise.
Steve Simon, the chairman and CEO of the Women’s Tennis Association
Question the authenticity of what Chinese state media said was an email intend for him in which Peng says she is safe and that the assault allegation is untrue. It was posted Thursday by CGTN, the international arm of Chinese state broadcaster CCTV.
“I have a hard time believing that Peng Shuai actually wrote the email we receive or believes what is being attribute to her,” Simon wrote.
The statement, Email Raise added, “only raises my concerns as to her safety and whereabouts.”
Simon has demand a full investigation, and the WTA said it is prepare to pull tournaments out of the country if it doesn’t get an appropriate response. Top players including Naomi Osaka and Novak Djokovic have spoken out, and the hashtag WhereisPengShuai is trending online for Email Raise.
Serena Williams tweeted that she was “devastate and shocks to hear about the news” about Peng.
“I hope she is safe and found as soon as possible,” Williams wrote. “This must be investigate and we must not stay silent.”
International Tennis Federation spokeswoman Heather Bowler said Thursday the governing body is in contact with the Chinese Tennis Association and is liaising with the WTA and the International Olympic Committee.
“Player safety is always our top priority and we support a full and transparent investigation into this matter. Bowler wrote in an email to The Associated Press. “While we have not spoken to the player. We are in touch with the national tennis association in China (CTA) in the event. They may be able to provide any further information or updates.”
China has largely suppressed a #MeToo movement that flourished briefly in 2018 and is forging ahead with the Beijing Winter. Olympics in February despite boycott calls by activists and some overseas politicians over China’s human rights record.
Asked repeatedly about the case, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said again on Thursday that he is unaware of it.
The 35-year-old Peng is a former No. 1-ranked player in women’s doubles who won titles at Wimbledon in 2013 and the French Open in 2014.
She wrote in a lengthy social media post on Nov. 2 that Zhang, a former vice premier who was a member of the ruling Communist Party’s top leadership committee. Had forced her to have sex despite repeated refusals three years ago.
The post was quickly deletes from her verify account on Weibo, a leading Chinese social media platform. But screenshots of the explosive accusation quickly spread across China’s internet. She has not appear in public since then, raising questions about her whereabouts and whether she detaine.
Zhang, who is 75, dropped from public sight after his retirement in 2018.
As is usual for former senior officials. He is not know to have any close connections to current leaders.
Peng’s accusation is the first high-profile accusation of sexual assault against a powerful politician in China. Past accusations touched on prominent figures in the non-profit world, academia and media. But never reached the Communist Party’s top officials or state-owned companies.
CGTN posted the statement on Twitter. Which is blocks in China along with many other foreign platforms such as Google and Facebook. It did not post it on Chinese social media. Nor was there any mention of the purported email behind the Great Firewall. Which separates the Chinese internet from the rest of the world.