New Search for Peng Shuai Continues
Concerns from other tennis athletes ensue as international tennis player Peng Shuai goes missing after accusing a former Chinese state leader of sexual assault.
Peng is a well-known professional tennis player, ranked 22nd best in the world in 2014. Peng reported that she and Zhang Gaoli had an on-off relationship of 10 years. But, sexual favors were not consensual.
China’s most popular tennis player, Peng, accused former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli of forcing Peng into his home for sexual favors three years ago. On November 3rd, Peng posted screenshots of a letter addressed to Zhang Gaoli about the incident on Weibo. She posted on her account, “That afternoon, I didn’t give my consent and couldn’t stop crying…You brought me to your house and forced me and you to have relations.” However, the social media posts have been deleted 30 minutes after posting. Due to China’s strict censorship rules and Zhang Gaoli’s close connection to Chinese President Xi Jinping, the post was quickly taken down to eliminate further damage from mentioning sexual accusations online.
Peng Shuai has vanished from the public eye ever since she came forward and made her claims. Chinese feminists and #Metoo activists are deeply concerned about her safety. #WhereIsPengShuai pic.twitter.com/Y1l7jA6Jbb— FreeChineseFeminists (@FeministChina) November 14, 2021
Not long after posting the accusation, Peng seems to have disappeared as all connections to reach her have failed. CEO of the Women’s Tennis Association, Steve Simon, has tried reaching Peng, but there was no luck. Simon explains, “We have worked every method available to us. Voice, digital, tweeting. WeChat. WhatsApp. Text. There are plenty of different messaging things we all use and are all able to communicate with. And none of those have produced a result as of this point.”
At this point, Naomi Osaka, ranked number 1 by the Women’s Tennis Association, has also weighed in on the search for Peng. Osaka posted a tweet on Tuesday saying, “Censorship is never OK at any cost; I hope Peng Shuai and her family are safe and OK. I’m in shock of the current situation, and I’m sending love and light her way. #WhereIsPengShuai”
The Chinese Tennis Association reached out to Simon and notified him that Peng is safe and not under any threat in Beijing. However, there is no word from Peng herself.
Since the accusation, Peng has not been seen in public, and her Weibo account has been blocked from search platforms. Concerns from other international athletes and the Women’s Tennis Association grow every day Peng is silenced. Peng not only publically announced her sexual assault, but she also went against Censorship and accused a former leader of the top Communist Party.
There are no updates on Peng’s case or her whereabouts. Thoughts and prayers go out to Peng and her family.