On Nov. 2, Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai, 35, accused China’s former vice premier, Zhang Gaoli, of sexual assault back in 2017 via Weibo, a Chinese social media app. The post was swiftly deleted, and Peng Shuai seemed to disappear from public view. The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), World Tennis Association, and prominent members of the tennis community took to social media to demand proof of life and raise awareness on Peng Shuai’s absence.
Staged Situations Drive Concerns
Tennis players such as Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka, along with WTA CEO Steve Simon, are demanding a full investigation into Peng’s absence from the public scene and media as well as into her claims of rape.
Last week, CGTN, a state-owned TV outlet, posted an email online supposedly sent from Peng Shuai to Simon, but he said the email only furthered his concerns about the tennis player's well-being. The email did not reflect the genuine nature of her allegations. Simon, in response, threatened to pull all planned tournaments in China unless authorities provide evidence that Peng Shuai is safe and her allegations are being taken seriously.
Simon is not the only one skeptical of the authenticity of the posts shared by Chinese media. Sophia Richardson, the China director at Human Rights Watch, said that unless Peng Shuai appears in public “clearly speaking freely,” the organization will remain displeased.
Another state-affiliated media source shared photos Peng posted in WeChat in resp...