Outcry over the fate of Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai escalated as the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) threatened to withdraw tournaments from China over his disappearance and the White House asked Beijing to prove that she was safe. Former world number one double Peng has not been seen or heard from publicly since she said on Chinese social media on November 2 that former vice premier Zhang Gaoli had forced her into dating sex https://www.reuters.com/world/china/ chinese tennis star peng says ex-vice premier forced her to have sex-2021-11-03 and they then had an intermittent consensual relationship.
Neither Zhang nor the Chinese government has commented on his allegation. Peng’s social media post was quickly removed, and the topic was blocked in heavily censored internet discussions in China. Concerns https://www.reuters.com/article/tennis-china-peng-itf/tennis-itf-says-player-safety-top-priority-amid-concerns-over-chinas-peng-idINL1N2S91BO among world tennis The community and beyond have grown over Peng’s safety and plight since his allegation, with the WTA calling for an investigation.
Some of the world’s best tennis players, including Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka, as well as the German Olympic Committee, used the social media hashtag #WhereIsPengShuai. The White House on Friday called on the Chinese government to provide “independent and verifiable evidence” of Peng’s whereabouts and security.
“We are deeply concerned about reports that Peng Shuai appears to have disappeared after accusing an elder [People’s Republic of China] senior responsible for sexual assault, “spokeswoman Jen Psaki said. French Sports Minister Roxana Maracineany called for transparency.
“Our country is deeply committed to respect for human rights. Transparency is absolutely necessary on accusations of sexual assault such as the Peng Shuai situation,” she wrote on Twitter on Friday. “We are following this file closely with the tennis authorities and the Quai d’Orsay (Ministry of Foreign Affairs).”
The issue emerged as China prepares to host the Winter Olympics in Beijing in February amid calls from global human rights groups and others to boycott its rights record. humans. The International Olympic Committee declined to comment on the Peng case, saying it believed “quiet diplomacy” offered the best opportunity for a solution. UN human rights spokesperson Liz Throssell has called for evidence of Peng’s fate and well-being as well as a transparent investigation into his allegations.
WTA chief executive Steve Simon told CNN and other U.S. media on Thursday that the tour would consider removing tournaments worth tens of millions of dollars from China. In a statement to Reuters on Friday, Simon said the WTA was “at a crossroads” with China.
“We continue to demand independent and verifiable evidence that Peng Shuai is safe and that his allegation of sexual assault will be fully, fair and uncensored. If not, the WTA is ready to do what is fair, ”he said. EXPANSION AXIS
Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of China’s Global Times, responded on Friday to Simon’s comments at https://twitter.com/HuXijin_GT/status/1461616999897862148 to CNN on Twitter, saying, “Do not use a coercive tone when expressing concerns about China “. “Maybe you did it out of goodwill. But you have to understand China, including understanding how the system you don’t like promoted the real rights of 1.4 billion Chinese,” Hu said. , whose newspaper is published by the official People’s Daily of the ruling Communist Party.
The WTA said it was not responding to Hu’s tweet. China has been at the center of the WTA’s most aggressive expansion in the past decade and has hosted nine tournaments in the 2019 season with a total of $ 30.4 million in prizes offered.
The end-of-season WTA Finals had a purse of $ 14 million in 2019 when they were first played in Shenzhen. The finals were canceled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and moved this year to Guadalajara, Mexico, but the WTA has said it will return to Shenzhen from 2022 to 2030.
Streaming platform iQiyi is WTA’s digital rights partner in China, signing a 10-year deal worth $ 120 million. The agreement began in 2017. HEAVILY CENSORED IN CHINA
The hashtag #WhereIsPengShuai has so far racked up more than 32 million mentions on Facebook’s Instagram and Twitter, according to hashtag analysis site BrandMentions. Both platforms are blocked in China. In contrast, the subject remains heavily censored in tightly controlled Chinese cyberspace. Searches for the official WTA account on China’s Twitter-like platform Weibo on Friday yielded no results although his account remained available. Peng’s name on Weibo also continues to show no search results.
Peng had not been seen or heard from since his post until Wednesday, when WTA’s Simon said he received an email allegedly from Peng and denying the sexual assault allegations, which put in doubt https: //www.reuters. com / business / media-telecom / wtas-simon-voices-concern-over-statement-attribued-peng-2021-11-18. Chinese state media also posted the letter on Twitter. Hu, who has a particularly high profile in the tightly controlled Chinese state media, weighed in on the scandal on Twitter earlier Friday, saying he did not believe she had been the target of retaliation.
“As someone familiar with the Chinese system, I don’t think Peng Shuai suffered any retaliation and repression speculated by foreign media for what people have been talking about,” he said on Twitter. He made no similar comment on his official Weibo account.
(This story was not edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)