Photos of missing Chinese tennis star posted online

China’s Peng Shuai serves the ball during a training session ahead of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 13, 2019.

Guillaume West | AFP | Getty Images

A Chinese state television employee posted photos of missing tennis star Peng Shuai online in a new effort to allay concerns about his disappearance after accusing a senior executive of sexual assault.

The photos appeared on Twitter on Friday, which cannot be seen by most Internet users in China. State TV employee Shen Shiwei wrote that they were on Peng’s account on WeChat messaging service with the comment “Happy Weekend”.

The ruling Communist Party is facing growing appeals from tennis stars and the professional sports tour to prove that Peng, a three-time Olympian and former No.1-ranked women’s doubles player, is safe and letting her speak freely.

Meanwhile, the editor of a newspaper published by the party said that Peng would “appear in public” soon.

The controversy is politically sensitive as the Chinese capital prepares to host the Winter Olympics in February. On Friday, a spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry denied being aware of the outcry over Peng’s disappearance.

Peng, 35, has not been seen in public since the publication of a social media statement this month accusing Zhang Gaoli, a former member of the party’s standing committee, the inner circle of power, of having him. forced to have sex despite repeated refusals.

Shen works for CGTN, the English-speaking branch of China Central Television which targets foreign audiences. Her Twitter post came after CGTN this week released a statement she said came from Peng that dropped the charges against Zhang.

The editor of Global Times, an English-language newspaper published by the Communist Party, said on Twitter that he had confirmed from unidentified sources that the photos “are indeed the current state of Peng Shuai.”

“For the past few days, she has stayed at home freely and she didn’t want to be disturbed,” wrote editor Hu Xijin. “She will be showing up in public and participating in some activities soon.”

Photos showed Peng with a gray cat and holding a panda figurine in what appeared to be a private house with stuffed animals lined up behind her. There was no indication when the photos were taken.

Steve Simon, president and CEO of the Women’s Tennis Association, reacted on Saturday to a video claiming to show the tennis player in a restaurant.

“I am happy to see the videos released by Chinese state media that appear to show Peng Shuai in a restaurant in Beijing. While it is positive to see her, it is not known if she is free and able to take decisions and take action alone, without coercion or outside interference. This video alone is insufficient, “said Simon.

“As I said from the start, I remain concerned about Peng Shuai’s health and safety and that the sexual assault allegation is being censored and swept under the rug. I have been clear on what needs to happen. move on and our relationship with China is at a crossroads. “

Simon threatened to pull WTA events out of China. That means nearly a dozen next year, including the WTA Finals.


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