China’s state-owned tv broadcaster CGTN launched the e-mail, purportedly from Peng, within the early hours of Wednesday morning native time, amid rising worldwide concern for her whereabouts.
Considered one of China’s most recognizable tennis stars, Peng has not been seen in public since she accused former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli of coercing her into intercourse at his dwelling three years in the past, in accordance with screenshots of a since-deleted social media submit dated November 2.
Her submit on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like platform, was deleted inside 30 minutes of publication, with Chinese language censors transferring swiftly to wipe out any point out of the accusation on-line. Her Weibo account, which has greater than half one million followers, continues to be blocked from searchers on the platform.
Simon has stated he doubts the e-mail is genuine.
“The assertion launched right now by Chinese language state media regarding Peng Shuai solely raises my considerations as to her security and whereabouts,” Simon stated in an announcement. “I’ve a tough time believing that Peng Shuai truly wrote the e-mail we obtained or believes what’s being attributed to her.”
He added: “Peng Shuai should be allowed to talk freely, with out coercion or intimidation from any supply. Her allegation of sexual assault should be revered, investigated with full transparency and with out censorship.”
The alleged e-mail was launched by CGTN solely in English and home Chinese language media haven’t reported on its contents, regardless of Peng being a family identify in China.
Sports activities stars communicate out
“Censorship isn’t OK at any price, I hope Peng Shuai and her household are secure and OK. I am in shock of the present scenario and I am sending love and light-weight her manner,” tennis famous person Naomi Osaka stated as a part of a Twitter assertion on Tuesday, alongside the hashtag #WhereIsPengShuai.
Tennis legend and 39 time Grand Slam championship-winner Billie Jean King stated on Twitter, “Hoping that Peng Shuai is discovered secure and that her accusations are absolutely investigated.”
And former world No.1 Chris Evert stated, “these accusations are very disturbing.”
“I’ve recognized Peng since she was 14; we must always all be involved; that is severe; the place is she? Is she secure? Any info can be appreciated,” she stated in a submit on Twitter.
In recent times, the WTA has made a giant push into China. In 2019, China hosted a number of WTA tournaments, together with the WTA Finals held in Shenzhen for the primary time that 12 months. The occasion is about to return to the Chinese language metropolis from 2022 and be held there yearly till 2030, in accordance with the WTA.
The direct and extremely public intervention of the WTA is uncommon for a world sporting physique. Perceived criticisms of China, which can be as a consequence of host the 2022 Winter Olympics in February, have beforehand resulted in vital public and political backlash, in addition to lack of entry.
Politically delicate scandal
Peng’s explosive #MeToo allegations in opposition to former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli have proceed to reverberate throughout China, regardless of authorities’ makes an attempt to to wipe out any point out of such a politically delicate scandal.
Zhang, 75, served on the ruling Communist Get together’s seven individual Politiburo Standing Committee — the nation’s supreme management physique — from 2012 to 2017 throughout Chinese language chief Xi Jinping’s first time period in energy. He retired as vice premier in 2018.
In her submit, which reads as an open letter to Zhang, the 35-year-old tennis star alleges a relationship over an intermittent interval that spanned not less than 10 years.
“Why did it’s a must to come again to me, took me to your own home to power me to have intercourse with you?” she wrote.
Peng stated she didn’t have proof to show her allegations, and claimed Zhang was all the time fearful that she would document issues.
“I could not describe how disgusted I used to be, and what number of instances I requested myself am I nonetheless a human? I really feel like a strolling corpse,” wrote Peng.
CNN can’t independently confirm Peng’s submit, and has reached out to each her and China’s State Council, which handles press inquires for the central authorities, for remark.
Jennifer Hsu, a analysis fellow within the diplomacy and public opinion program on the Lowy Institute, stated Beijing is “acutely conscious” of the damaging gentle Peng’s accusations forged on the Chinese language Communist Get together.
She stated it was “attainable the e-mail was shared to a world viewers to beat back additional worldwide scrutiny of the party-state.”
“Individuals who accuse present authorities officers or former officers in China can anticipate penalties,” Hsu stated. “The general public accusation in opposition to the previous vice premiere might maybe immediate different ladies to deliver allegations of sexual misconduct by Communist Get together members to the general public and this one thing the celebration needs to forestall. And thus, the ‘disappearance’ of Peng Shuai is maybe a technique used to discourage different accusers from coming ahead.”
On Wednesday, China evaded questions from the media about Peng’s allegations in opposition to Zhang.
Chinese language MOFA spokesperson Zhao Lijian instructed reporters ought to attain out to the “competent division,” regardless of reporters remarking on the dearth of response from the Ministry of Public Safety.
Talking at a press convention, Zhao was requested concerning the WTA’s considerations over Peng’s “security and whereabouts” and if the federal government deliberate on taking any motion, to which Zhao stated the difficulty “wasn’t a diplomatic matter,” declining to remark any additional.
When requested once more on Thursday about Peng’s whereabouts, Zhao repeated that her sexual assault accusation will not be a diplomatic concern and declined to remark additional.
CNN’s Beijing bureau and Mitchell McCluskey in Atlanta contributed to this report.