WTA says missing Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai reappears in video is “insufficient”

Missing tennis star Peng Shuai According to photos released by the organizers, the youth tournament in Beijing reappeared in public on Sunday, as the ruling Communist Party tried. Eliminate fear abroad. Suppressing information about Peng in China when he accused a senior leader of sexual misconduct.

The China Open’s post on Weibo’s social media service did not mention Peng’s disappearance or allegations. The three-time Olympian and former Wimbledon champion was seen standing on a court, waving and signing large children’s commemorative tennis balls.

The ruling party appears to be trying to mitigate the threat without acknowledging Peng’s disappearance when it threatened to force Zhang Gaoli, a member of the party’s ruling standing committee, to have sex by November 2, 2018. Accused

Peng’s disappearance and official silence in response to information appeals prompted calls for a boycott of the Winter Olympics in Beijing in February, a prestigious event for the Communist Party. The women’s professional tour threatened to pull the events out of China if the safety of the former No. 1 doubles player was not assured.

Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai signs oversized tennis balls at the opening ceremony of the Fella Kids Junior Tennis Challenger final in Beijing.
Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai signs large tennis balls at the opening ceremony of the Fella Kids Junior Tennis Challenger final on November 21, 2021 in Beijing, China, according to a screenshot taken from a social media video.

Reuters via Twitter @QINGQINGPARIS


The debate over Peng’s allegations has been removed from websites in China. On Friday, a government spokesman declined to comment on the allegations. The ruling party’s Internet filters also prevent most people in China from watching other social media abroad and most international news outlets.

Comments on Chinese social media on Sunday criticized the Women’s Tennis Association and others who spoke out against Peng. Chinese-language comments on Twitter mocked the bizarre release of Peng’s photos and video by state media employees this weekend, while the government remained silent.

“When will the WTA leave China?” A comment on the Sina Weibo social media service, signed “Sleep time.”

Peng cited a growing number of Chinese businessmen, workers and ordinary people who have disappeared in recent years following criticism of party figures or crackdowns on corruption or pro-democracy and workers’ rights campaigns.

They reappear after a few weeks or months without explanation, suggesting that they have been warned not to reveal that they were detained or for what reason.

Peng’s appearance on Sunday was mentioned in the last sentence of a report on the tournament on the English-language Global Times website, a newspaper published by the ruling party and aimed at attracting foreign readers. But other media outlets inside China did not immediately report it.

Hu Zhejin, editor of the Global Times, said on Twitter on Saturday that what most Internet users in China could not see, that Peng would “stay at home freely” and would soon “show up in public.”

Global Times is known for its nationalist tone. Ho uses his Twitter account to criticize foreign governments and to point out social and economic issues abroad.

A comment on Twitter in which bobzhang999 was signed, “Ho dog, with so many pictures, why don’t you let Peng Shuai talk?”

“Let Peng Shuai’s parents hold a news conference,” said another, signed magician.

Tennis stars and the WTA have been vocal in demanding information about Peng. Other companies and sports groups are reluctant to compete with Beijing for fear of losing access to the Chinese market or other retaliation.

The ruling party has not indicated whether it is investigating Peng’s allegations against Gao, 75, who left the standing committee in 2018 and has largely disappeared from public life.

Even if Peng’s allegations are found to be true, people in China are often sent to prison for embarrassing the party by spreading complaints about abuse rather than going through a secret, often irresponsible government system. Or face other punishments.

The status of star players like Peng is particularly sensitive. The state media is celebrating its victory as proof that the party is strengthening China. But the party is wary of ensuring that it does not use its importance and public appeal to tarnish its image.

WTA chairman and CEO Steve Simon expressed concern about Peng’s safety when the newspaper’s editor, Hu, released two videos on Saturday showing him at a restaurant.

“Although it is positive to watch, it is not yet clear whether he is able to make his own decisions and actions without coercion or outside interference. This video alone is not enough,” said Simon. “Our relationship with China is at a crossroads.”

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has remained silent on the status of Peng, who competed in three Olympics, which contributed to the IOC’s multimillion-dollar revenue from broadcasting and sponsorship.

The Olympic Body’s stated policy is “silent diplomacy.” The IOC said on Saturday that it would “continue our open dialogue at all levels with the Olympic movement in China.”

When asked about human rights in China two weeks ago, senior IOC member Juan Antonio Smaranch said, “We are not talking to the Chinese government about this.”

The IOC has previously stated that its partner in organizing the Winter Games is the local organizing committee, not the Chinese state. This committee is controlled by the Communist Party.

“We support silent diplomacy,” said Emma Turho, the newly elected head of the IOC’s Athletes Commission, which is accused of representing the interests of Olympic athletes. Is right

Last week, the foreign arm of state TV released a statement in English attributed to Peng withdrawing its allegations against Zhang. Simon of the WTA questioned its legitimacy, while others said it raised concerns about its safety.

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