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Tennis star speaks for China

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The tennis star is asking for an answer to Peng Shuai. Peng Shuai’s disappearance once again highlighted China’s brutal authoritarianism in the months before the Winter Olympics.

Published on November 19, 2021, 4:01 PM EST


Xinhua News Agency/Xinhua News Agency/Getty Images

Peng Shuai at the Australian Open in January 2020

The news was only published on the Internet for a few minutes, but its shockwaves have reverberated around the world.

“I was scared that afternoon,” tennis player Peng Shuai wrote on the Chinese version of Twitter on November 2. “I never agree, I keep crying.”

The former world number one doubles player Peng, who won championships at Wimbledon and the French Open, said she was sexually assaulted by one of the most famous figures of the Chinese Communist Party: former Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli, former member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China .

The 35-year-old tennis star said that 75-year-old Zhang raped her a few years ago. She said that they later established a mutually agreed relationship intermittently.

“I feel like a walking dead,” Peng wrote.

Her allegations of sexual assault — as Peng admitted in her post, have not been independently verified by others — are the first publicly lodged accusations against someone so senior in the Chinese government.

The post was quickly taken down by Chinese censors, and even searches for her name in China were blocked.

Since then, she has never appeared in public again.

Just a few months before China’s upcoming Winter Olympics, the disappearance of a top Chinese athlete once again exposed the country’s brutal authoritarian and oppressive human rights record.


Read more: Documents show that Olympic officials rejected the human rights issue of the Beijing Olympics during a video call


On Friday, the UN Human Rights Office told reporters that it wanted to prove her “where and health.”

Since then, top tennis stars have supported Peng’s career, and social media has been flooded with the hashtag #WhereIsPengShuai.

“I was shocked and shocked to hear the news of my peer Peng Shuai,” Serena Williams wrote Thursday. “I hope she is safe and found as soon as possible. This must be investigated and we cannot remain silent.”

“A review must be conducted anyway,” Naomi Osaka wrote on Tuesday.

The whereabouts of female tennis player Peng Shuai is unknown after she filed sexual abuse charges against Chinese government officials. This speech gave us a reminder and some hope that it can be changed in the future 🙏 #WhereIsPengShuai https://t.co/eKnLCHcPLj


Twitter: @andy_murray

As the international community pays more and more attention to her plight, Chinese state media suddenly Posted an email It said Peng had written to Steve Simon, president of the Women’s Tennis Association.

The letter, which cannot be verified for authenticity, claimed that Peng was resting at home and never authorized the original “untrue” statement on Weibo.

But in a statement on Thursday, Simon said that the so-called Peng Xin would only make him more worried about her safety.

“I can hardly believe that Peng Shuai actually wrote the emails we received, or believed that it was attributed to her,” he said.

He called for “independent and verifiable evidence” for her safety and a full investigation of her claims.

“Peng Shuai must be allowed to speak freely, without coercion or intimidation from any source,” Simon said. “Her allegations of sexual assault must be respected and the investigation must be conducted in a completely transparent and uncensored manner.”

Simon told CNN that WTA is prepared to no longer do business with China. If Peng is not considered, it will lose hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue.

“This is more important than business,” he said.

A spokesperson for the Women’s Sports Foundation, an American non-profit organization founded by tennis legend Billie Jean King in 1974, told BuzzFeed News that they supported the WTA’s position.

The spokesperson said: “We are deeply concerned and troubled by Peng Shuai’s disappearance and allegations of sexual assault.” “We support WTA’s request to provide evidence that can prove her safety, and respect and investigate her allegations in a completely transparent manner.”

But for the International Olympic Committee, this letter is obviously enough. The International Olympic Committee has been silent on the disappearance of the three Olympians.

A spokesperson for the International Olympic Committee said on Thursday: “We have seen the latest reports and are encouraged by her assurance of safety.”

This tepid statement was widely criticized by Western media and NGOs as reckless.

South China Morning Post/South China Morning Post via Getty Images

In May 2017, Zhang Gaoli, the then Vice Premier of China, delivered a speech in Beijing.

The international advocacy organization Human Rights Watch is also ashamed of what the International Olympic Committee calls “recognition” of the “line” of the Chinese government.

“It is surprising that the International Olympic Committee will accept the government’s guarantees, especially at the expense of a female Olympian for making serious allegations,” said Benki Warden, head of global initiatives at Human Rights Watch.

The organization urges athletes, sports fans and sponsors of the Winter Olympics to speak out for human rights in China.

Worden said: “The Olympics should be a celebration of humanity, not an opportunity to abuse athletes and sports to baptize crimes against humanity.”

After a virtual meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday, President Biden said this week that he is considering a diplomatic boycott of the upcoming Olympics.

Amnesty International also said that given China’s record of suppressing dissent, it is deeply concerned about Peng.

Dorian, a researcher at Amnesty International in China, said: “Peng’s recent so-called “all is well” statement should not be taken as face value because the Chinese official media has a record of forcing individuals to make statements under duress, or simply fabricating them. .” Liu. “Unless Peng’s safety and whereabouts are confirmed, these concerns will not disappear.”



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