Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai Former Chinese Communist Party leader Zhang Gaoili has been missing for 18 days after being accused of sexual assault on November 2. The accusation and his disappearance led the tennis community, the White House and many other important international organizations to jump to his defense.
Former French Open and Wimbledon doubles champion Zhang Gaoli, a retired deputy prime minister, was forced to have sex three years ago in an online message posted on Chinese social media website Weibo. Since then, Peng has not been seen in public, except for a highly-watched video released by Chinese state media at a Beijing restaurant on Saturday and an alleged video call with the president of the International Olympic Committee on Sunday.
The WTA China has been actively pressured to confirm Peng’s security and investigate his allegations, even threatening to take his business profit out of the country if such actions are not taken. The White House, the United Nations and the European Union also appeared in defense of Peng, calling for an investigation into his allegations and disappearance.
Peng’s tennis teammates have contributed equally Novak Djokovic calling his disappearance ‘shocking’ Chris Evert calling the whole situation “disturbing.” Billie Jean King wrote Peng, the No. 1 in the world, who hoped to find it safe Alize Cornet “Let’s not keep quiet,” he added with the hashtag #WhereIsPengShuai.
Naomi Osaka is the most prominent female tennis player in the world. he tweeted He is “impressed with the current situation” and is “illuminating love and the way”.
Serena Williams, long before Osaka’s strength of the sport, shared the same photo of Peng with equal concern.
Here’s how Peng’s entire situation has developed chronologically, starting with the latest updates:
November 30: EU demands “verifiable evidence” of Peng’s security
The EU followed the White House and the UN, calling for an investigation into Peng’s allegations and disappearance. In a statement, the EU called for a “full, fair and transparent investigation” into the situation, adding that it was “firmly opposed” to enforced disappearance and arbitrary detention.
“The EU is in line with a growing international demand, including for professional sports, to ensure that it is free and not threatened,” the EU statement said. According to the Associated Press. “In this spirit, the EU urges the Chinese government to provide verifiable evidence of Peng Shua’s safety, well-being and whereabouts. The EU urges the Chinese authorities to conduct a full, fair and transparent investigation into allegations of sexual assault.”
Although 11 days have passed since the White House and the UN made public comments, the EU’s statement is the most significant of an international organization since Peng’s recent renewal. Peng appeared in a video released by Chinese state media on November 20 and joined a video conference organized by the IOC a day later.
“His recent public appearance does not alleviate his concerns about his security and freedom,” an EU spokesman told the AP.
November 21: The IOC makes a video call with Peng
The International Olympic Committee announced on Sunday COI President Thomas Bach said he made a video call with Peng and was safe there. According to the COI statement, these two were joined by Chinese sports official Li Lingwei and Emma Terho, chairman of the Sports Committee.
According to the statement, Peng thanked the commission for its concern about its welfare and stressed that he was safe and well at home in Beijing, but “he likes to respect his privacy at this time. That’s why he prefers to spend time with friends and family right now.”
“I was glad to see that Peng Shuai was doing well, that was our main concern,” Terho’s statement read. “He seemed to be calm. I offered our support and it was convenient to be in touch at any time, of course he was grateful.”
The IOC also said that Peng accepted an invitation to dinner with Bach, Terho and Li in January. The 2022 Winter Olympics will be held in Beijing.
November 20: Chinese state media release the first image of Peng since his disappearance
Chinese state media shared a video of dinner in Peng Beijing, where the tennis star shared three photos on the Chinese social media platform WeChat. Hu Xijin, editor of Global Thames, who posted the video on Twitter, said the dinner was on Saturday and was attended by Peng’s friends and coaches.
The video follows Xijin he tweeted Peng was “free” at home and “will soon be participating in some activities” on Friday.
Although WTA Director-General Steve Simon said seeing Peng in the video was a “positive” development, he described the evidence as “insufficient” and “remains concerned about Peng Shua’s health and safety, and that allegations of sexual assault are being censored and removed.” .
“It’s not clear if he’s free and able to make decisions and take action on his own, without being forced or outside interference,” Simon said.
According to the Sky News translation, those who dined with Peng made several references to the date and his recent performances. Peng did not speak in the video.
November 19: The White House calls on the UN to investigate the situation of Peng Shuai
The White House broke the silence about Peng’s situation by demanding evidence of his security and condemning China’s censorship. Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the White House is “very concerned” about the disappearance of the tennis star and is seeking “independent and verifiable evidence” of its location and situation.
A day earlier, U.S. President Joe Biden said he was “reflecting”. Diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics In Beijing, because the country handles human rights issues.
“First of all, any allegation of sexual assault should be investigated, and we support the ability of women to speak and hold accountable here or around the world. Second, we will continue to advocate for freedom of expression, and we know the PRC has no tolerance for criticism and speaking the record of silencing those, and we continue to condemn these practices. ”
The United Nations joined the White House in defending Peng, and Liz Throssell, a spokeswoman for the UN Office of Human Rights, called for an investigation “with full transparency.”
“What we would say is that it would be important to have evidence of his whereabouts and well-being, and we would call for a full transparency investigation into his allegations of sexual assault,” Throssell said.
November 19: China says it “doesn’t know” about Shuai’s situation
The Chinese Foreign Ministry has revealed they were not “aware” of the situation surrounding Peng Shuai, according to the Associated Press. Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told the media that the issue “is not a diplomatic question” and added that “the situation is not known.”
Liz Throssell, a spokeswoman for the United Nations Office on Human Rights in Geneva, said the situation calls for a “full transparency investigation” into the allegation of her sexual assault.
As of Friday, the International Olympic Committee declined to comment on the matter.
November 18: Simon, WTA threatens to pull out of Chinese business
Simon doubled down on the threat to withdraw the WTA business from China, a country his organization has expanded in recent years, if it does not confirm Peng’s security and investigate his allegations.
“We are certainly ready to take our business out and deal with all the complications that come with it,” Simon said. CNN. “Because this is definitely bigger than this business.”
“Women should be respected and not censored,” she added.
China hosted 19 WTA tournaments in 2019 alone, with a total prize pool of $ 30.4 million. Shenzhen is scheduled to host the WTA Finals between 2022 and 2030, after being held for the first time in 2019. The 2019 Finals had a $ 14 million prize pool.
November 17: WTA questions the legitimacy of the Peng Shuai statement
An email from Peng on Wednesday said the WTA had not obtained his permission or verification before releasing his statement. Peng’s first public comments were from his allegations, but some, including the WTA, had questions about the legitimacy of the statement.
“The news on that note, including the allegation of sexual assault, is not true,” the email said, an email tweeted by the China State Television Network linked to the Chinese state. “I’m not missing, I’m not safe. Rest at home and everything is fine.”
Simon clearly questioned whether Peng was forced to write.
“The statement released by the Chinese state media today about Peng Shua only raises my concerns about his safety and where he is.” Simon wrote. “Peng Shua should be allowed to speak freely, without any coercion or fear.”
Peng has yet to be seen since he posted on social media on November 2nd.
November 15: China is silenced by the disappearance of Peng Shuai’s allegations
Zhao Lijan, spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry he said “This is not a diplomatic question” when asked about Peng’s allegations, he added that he was “not aware of the issue”. The country, 13 days after the publication of Peng’s message, has not yet accepted it.
November 14: The WTA director calls for an investigation into the situation
WTA CEO Steve Simon called for “full, fair and transparent”. research In a statement to Peng’s allegations. At that time, no one saw or heard Peng for 12 days, which spread the hashtag #WhereIsPengShuai on social media.
“It’s clear he showed tremendous courage to make it public.” Simon told the New York Times. “Now we want to make sure we go to a place where full and transparent research is done. Anything else, in my opinion, is offensive not only to our players but to all women.”
Simon threatened to take the WTA business out of China if the country did not properly investigate Peng’s allegations. China currently hosts 11 WTA tournaments and tour finals in Shenzhen.
Although Simon was unable to confirm Peng’s whereabouts or situation directly, he told the Times that several sources – including the Chinese Tennis Association – told him he was “safe and there is no physical threat.” Simon’s “understanding” was that he was in Beijing.
November 2: Peng Shuai makes allegations of sexual assault against Zhang
In a 1,600-word message to Weibo, Peng accused 75-year-old Zhang, a former leader of the Chinese Communist Party. pressuring sex about three years ago. Peng, 35, said the attack came after Zhang and his wife were invited to play tennis, but admitted he had no evidence.
“I was terribly scared that afternoon,” Peng wrote, saying that a guard was waiting outside the door while the attack took place. “I never gave permission, crying all the time.”
Peng said he and Zhang met each other while serving as party leader in Tianjin from 2007-2012, and Zhang was forced to have sex in 2017 after resigning as China’s deputy prime minister.
“I know that for someone of your level, Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli, you have said that you are not afraid,” Peng wrote. “But whether it’s like throwing an egg at a stone, or if I’m like a moth attracted to a fire, inviting you to self-destruction, I’ll tell you the truth.”
The post was deleted within 30 minutes, and Chinese censors blocked search terms, such as Peng’s name.