BEIJING A Chinese state television official has posted photos of missing tennis player Peng Shuai online in another attempt to allay concerns over her disappearance after accusing a senior leader of sexual assault.
The photos appeared on Twitter on Friday, which is not visible to most internet users in China. State television employee Shen Shiwei wrote that they were posted on Peng’s account on the WeChat messaging service with the comment, “Happy weekend.”
Videos were also released by Chinese media showing Peng in a Beijing restaurant. That led to a New Statement from Women’s Tennis Association President and CEO Steve Simon, who made it clear that “this video alone is insufficient”.
I am happy to see the videos released by Chinese state media that appear to show Peng Shuai at a restaurant in Beijing,” Simon’s statement begins. “While it is positive to see her, it remains unclear whether she is free and is able to see her. make decisions and take actions independently, without coercion or outside interference. This video alone is not enough.
“As I have stated from the beginning, I remain concerned about the health and safety of Peng Shuai and that the allegation of sexual assault will be censored and swept under the rug. I have been clear about what needs to be done and our relationship with China is at a crossroads.
In addition, New York Times tennis correspondentChristopher Clarey reported on Saturday afternoon that Simon had sent a letter to the Chinese ambassador to the United States about Peng. Clarey posted the letter in full on his Twitter account.
The ruling communist party faces increasing appeal of tennis stars and the sport’s professional tours to prove that Peng, a three-time Olympian and former No. 1 women’s doubles player, is safe and can speak freely.
United States Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman also expressed concern about Peng’s whereabouts on Friday with a tweet from her official account.
The controversy is politically uneasy as the Chinese capital prepares to host the Winter Olympics in February. A Foreign Ministry spokesman on Friday denied being aware of the outrage over Peng’s disappearance.
Peng, 35, has not been seen in public since he posted a statement on social media this month accusing Zhang Gaoli, a former standing committee member of the party’s ruling inner circle of power, of coercing her to sex despite repeated refusal.
Shen works for CGTN, the English-language branch of China Central Television that targets a foreign audience. His Twitter post came after CGTN released a statement this week allegedly from Peng dropping the charges against Zhang.
The editor of Global Times, an English-language Communist Party newspaper, said on Twitter that he had confirmed from unknown sources that the photos “indeed represent the current state of Peng Shuai”.
“For the past few days, she has been staying free in her own house and did not want to be disturbed,” wrote its editor, Hu Xijin. “She will soon appear in public and participate in some activities.”
The photos showed Peng with a gray cat and a panda figurine in what appeared to be a private residence with stuffed animals behind her. There was no indication when the photos were taken.
Meanwhile, the editor of a newspaper published by the party said Peng would “appear in public” soon.
Simon questioned the legitimacy of CGTN’s statement on Wednesday. The WTA chairman and CEO said it “only raises my concerns about its safety.”
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