One of ChinaHigh-profile sports stars have been missing for weeks after filing a social media sexual abuse allegation against a retired Communist Party executive, making international headlines and causing a media storm social, with athletes like Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka weighing in.
chinese tennis star Peng shuai hasn’t been seen in public for 17 days, prompting the #WhereIsPengShuai hashtag to become a trending Twitter trend. The The United Nations and the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) also weighed in, with the latter organization threatening to cease doing business with the country if Peng’s whereabouts are not confirmed.
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Who is Peng Shuai and why is she trending?
Peng, 35, is one of the most prominent Chinese tennis stars in the world, competing in three Olympics and placing No.2. World 14 in singles by the WTA in 2011. She also became the first Chinese sports star to be ranked number one in doubles in 2014 after winning titles at Wimbledon and Roland Garros in 2013 and 2014. securities in 2018, when she was banned for six months and fined $ 10,000 for allegedly attempting to coerce her doubles partner out of Wimbledon.
On November 2, Peng released a lengthy statement on the social networking platform Weibo accusing Zhang Gaoli, retired former Vice Premier of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), of pressuring her to had extra-marital sex with him three years ago. In the post, Peng accused Zhang of inviting her to his home on the pretext of playing tennis with him and his wife, only to sexually assault her. She said they then had sporadic consensual sex, although she could not provide any evidence to support her claims. “Like an egg hitting a rock, or a flame moth, wooing self-destruction, I will speak the truth about you,” Peng wrote in the post, according to CBS Sports.
The social media post was removed 30 minutes after it was posted, and censors blocked Peng’s name and keywords such as “tennis” on Chinese social media platforms. But it had already gone viral and caught the attention of WTA Chairman Steve Simon, who issued a statement demanding that Chinese authorities conduct a “full, fair and transparent” investigation into the allegations. “The recent events in China involving WTA player Peng Shuai are of great concern,” said Simon. “Peng Shuai, and all women, deserve to be heard, not censored.”
Concerns about Peng and her safety escalated when Chinese activists began to point out that she had not been seen in public since writing her first post, prompting the hashtag #WhereIsPengShuai to become a tendency. Although Simon Recount the New York Times on November 14, he had heard from several sources, including the China Tennis Association, that Peng was “safe and not under any physical threat,” he also said he had no news from Peng directly.
Simon also added that the WTA Tour will withdraw from China if the country does not conduct a thorough investigation into Peng’s allegations. In 2019, the WTA entered into a 10-year agreement to hold finals in the city of Shenzhen from 2022 to 2030, a deal worth $ 1 billion that would also include the construction of a new stadium. “IIf at the end of the day we don’t see the appropriate results, we would be prepared to take that step and not operate our business in China if that were the case, ”he told the New York Times.
Did Peng mention the #WhereIsPengShuai campaign?
Yes, but we don’t know if she speaks for herself. The China Global Television Network (which is affiliated with the Chinese state) Twitter account on Wednesday released a statement from an email purportedly made by Peng to the WTA, stating that it did not endorse the statements. of the WTA about it. In the post, she also refuted her initial sexual assault claim, calling it “not true”. “I’m not missing, and I’m not safe either. I have just rested at home and everything is fine, ”the statement read.
In response, Simon published a declaration on behalf of the WTA questioning the authorship of the email. “The statement released today by Chinese state media regarding Peng Shuai only raises my concerns for his safety and fate,” he said. “Peng Shuai must be allowed to speak freely, without coercion or intimidation from any source. “
For its part, the Chinese government has claims ignorance of Peng’s whereabouts. “I am not aware of the situation,” ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters on Friday, adding that it was “not a diplomatic issue.”
Who spoke out against Peng’s disappearance?
Over the past two weeks, many of Peng’s peers in the tennis world have expressed concern for his safety. “I am devastated and shocked to hear the news from my peer, Peng Shuai. Hope she is safe and found as soon as possible, ”Serena Williams wrote on Twitter, using the hashtag #WhereIsPengShuai. “This needs to be investigated and we must not remain silent.” Naomi Osaka too was talking on behalf of Peng, tweeting: “I am in shock at the current situation and send him love and light.”
Although the International Olympic Games Commission has decreases to comment on the situation, saying in a statement Thursday that “experience shows that quiet diplomacy offers the best opportunity to find a solution to issues of this nature,” UN spokeswoman Liz Throssell said on Friday. , that the organization was concerned for Peng’s safety and appeal. for “a transparent investigation into his allegation of sexual assault.”
“According to the information available, the former world double No.1 has not been heard publicly since she alleged on social media that she was sexually assaulted,” she said. noted. “We would like to stress that it is important to know where she is and to know her condition, to know her well-being.”
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