US, UN Demand Proof of Well-Being of Missing Chinese Tennis Star | Women’s rights news
The UN and the United States demanded proof of Peng Shuai’s whereabouts on Friday, amid growing concerns for the Chinese tennis star’s welfare.
The player has not been seen in public since she alleged on November 2 that she was sexually assaulted by the former Chinese vice premier.
Tennis stars, sports organizations, governments and human rights activists have all expressed their support for the 35-year-old who said in a now deleted Weibo article that Zhang Gaoli had forced her to have sex .
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said President Joe Biden’s administration wanted China to “provide independent and verifiable evidence” of Peng’s whereabouts and expressed “deep concern. About the world’s top ranked former doubles player.
The United Nations insisted that a fully transparent investigation be conducted into Peng’s allegations.
“It would be important to have proof of your fate and well-being,” Liz Throssell, spokesperson for the United Nations Human Rights Office in Geneva, told reporters. “We are calling for a transparent investigation into his allegation of sexual assault.”
Tennis players including Naomi Osaka, Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic, the world’s best male player, also expressed their support for the Chinese athlete.
” It’s horrible. I mean, one person is missing, âDjokovic said during the ATP final in the Italian city of Turin. âThe whole tennis community needs to support her and her family and make sure she is safe and sound. “
Djokovic also backed the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) statement that she was ready to sever lucrative trade ties with China over Peng.
âIf you organize tournaments on Chinese soil without resolving this situation it would be a little strange, so I understand why the WTA has taken such a position,â said Djokovic.
The former Wimbledon and Roland Garros doubles champion alleged that Zhang, who retired in 2018, “forced” her to have sex during a long-term relationship.
China has remained largely silent on the tennis star and on Friday the Foreign Ministry maintained its line that it was unaware of the controversy surrounding the player.
Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters that the case was “not a diplomatic issue and I am not aware of the situation.”
Peng’s post was quickly deleted from his verified account on Weibo, China’s popular social media platform, though screenshots of the prosecution were shared widely. Discussion of the case has since been suppressed, with state broadcaster CGTN this week sharing an email purportedly from Peng to WTA chief Steve Simon saying she was “resting” at home and that the The assault allegation was “not true”.
Simon questioned the authenticity of the email and said on Friday that the WTA was at a crossroads with China and continued to make every effort to reach out and speak directly to Peng.
Peng, who represented China at the Olympics in Beijing, London and Rio de Janeiro, is not the first high-profile Chinese citizen to suddenly disappear from public view under unclear circumstances.
Jack Ma, the founder of the world’s largest e-commerce company, Alibaba, disappeared in October 2020 after criticizing government regulators in a speech. Shortly thereafter, a major stock sale by Ant Group, the group’s online payment unit, was called off by authorities at the last minute. Ma reappeared in a video in January this year, but did not mention her disappearance.
Fan Bingbing, a Hollywood actress who was a prolific user of social media, disappeared for three months in 2018. It later emerged that she was under house arrest while under investigation for tax evasion. .
Peng’s claims brought the #MeToo movement to the highest echelons of the ruling Communist Party in China for the first time.
âThe Chinese government has systematically silenced the country’s #MeToo movement,â said Doriane Lau, China researcher at Amnesty International.
âGiven that he also has a zero tolerance approach to criticism, it is deeply concerning that Peng Shuai appears to be lacking,â she said.