Peng Shuai: UN calls for proof of Chinese tennis star’s whereabouts

Peng, who is one of China’s most recognizable sports stars, has not been seen in public since accusing former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli of forcing her to have sex at home, according to screenshots from a social media post deleted since November 2.

“What we would say is that it would be important to have evidence of her whereabouts and her well-being, and we urge that there be a transparent investigation into her allegations of sexual assault, “Liz Throssell, spokesperson for the UN Human Bureau for Human Rights, told reporters in Geneva on Friday.

“According to the information available, the former world double No.1 has not been heard publicly since she alleged on social media that she was sexually assaulted. We stress that it is important to know where she is and to know his condition, to know about his well-being, “said Throssell.

Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) President Steve Simon has said he is ready to lose hundreds of millions of dollars in business in China if Peng is not fully considered and his allegations fail. not subject to proper investigation.

“We are definitely ready to pull our business and face all the complications that come with it,” Simon said in an interview with CNN Thursday. “Because it’s definitely, it’s bigger than the business,” added Simon.

“Women must be respected and not censored,” said Simon.

Peng’s post on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like platform, was deleted within 30 minutes of its posting, with Chinese censors moving quickly to erase any mention of the accusation online. His Weibo account, which has more than half a million subscribers, is still blocked for researchers on the platform.

Simon’s forceful intervention puts the tennis chief on a likely collision course with Chinese officials, who have so far refused to publicly acknowledge Peng’s claims. Perceived criticism of China, which is also due to host the 2022 Winter Olympics in February, has already led to significant public and political backlash, as well as loss of access.

“Staged statement of a certain type”

Simon said the WTA had been in conversation with his counterparts from the Chinese Tennis Association, who had assured Peng was unharmed in Beijing. However, attempts to reach Peng directly were unsuccessful.

“We contacted her on all phone numbers, email addresses and other forms of contact,” he said. “There are so many digital approaches to contacting people these days, and to this day we still haven’t been able to get a response.”

Earlier this week, Chinese state media published an email, allegedly sent to Simon from Peng, revisiting her allegations and saying she was fine.

The alleged email was only published on English-language platforms and domestic Chinese media did not report on its contents, although Peng is a household name in China.

When asked about the email, Simon questioned its veracity, describing it as a “staged statement of some type”, noting that he had not yet received a follow-up response, although he responded immediately.

“If she was forced to write it, someone wrote it for her, we don’t know,” Simon said. “But at this point, I don’t think it’s valid and we won’t be comfortable until we have a chance to speak with her,” he added.

The popularity of tennis in China has grown rapidly over the past decades, with several Chinese players entering the world rankings. Women’s football, in particular, is a big market, in part thanks to the success of Chinese tennis star Li Na, who in 2011 became Asia’s first singles tennis champion by winning Roland Garros, followed by a second major title at the 2014 Australian Open.

In recent years, the WTA has made a big breakthrough in China. In 2019, the WTA Finals moved from Singapore to the city of Shenzhen in southern China, signing a ten-year long contract.

In an interview with the New York Times 2018Simon described the deal with the Shenzhen authorities, which would include the construction of a new multi-million dollar tennis stadium, as a “huge opportunity” for women’s tennis in China.

“When you factor in the money-making commitment and commitments to the WTA, and you factor in the stadium construction and real estate items, that adds up to over $ 1 billion in commitment that ‘they took to the WTA and WTA Finals, “Simon was quoted as saying.

Chinese tennis star accuses former Communist Party leader of sexual assault, sparking general censorship
Serena Williams joined a growing number of international tennis players on Thursday to voice concerns over Peng’s whereabouts.
“I am devastated and shocked to hear the news from my peer, Peng Shuai. I hope she is safe and found as soon as possible,” said Williams. wrote on Twitter. “This needs to be investigated and we must not remain silent.”

Tennis superstar Naomi Osaka said on Tuesday she was “in shock at the current situation.”

“Censorship is never OK at any cost, I hope Peng Shuai and his family are safe,” she said. wrote as part of a statement on Twitter alongside the hashtag #WhereIsPengShuai.
The controversy is likely to have an impact on the upcoming 2022 Winter Olympics, which are expected to kick off in Beijing in less than three months. Calls for a boycott have increased in recent months, amid concerns over alleged human rights violations by China. Thursday, US President Joe Biden confirmed that he was considering a diplomatic boycott of the event.

The international concern of Peng, a three-time Olympian, who represented China at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, London in 2012 and Beijing in 2008, could now reinforce these calls.

However, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has distanced itself from the pressure exerted on the Chinese authorities.

In a response to CNN, the IOC said: “Experience shows that quiet diplomacy offers the best opportunity to find a solution to questions of this nature. This is why the IOC will not comment further at this point.”

Human Rights Watch accused the IOC of being “silent on the disappearance of the Olympian.” In a statement, the global human rights group said it was “astonishing that the IOC accepts government assurances, especially at the expense of an Olympian making serious allegations.”

Speaking at a press conference Thursday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said Peng’s accusation was not a diplomatic issue and declined to comment further.



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