The text attributed to Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai raises more concerns

A statement from Chinese state television in which tennis player Peng Shuai claims to be well raises many concerns. The latter has reportedly disappeared after accusing a former senior politician of rape.

The head of the WTA, which runs the women’s professional tennis circuit, expressed concern over Peng Shuai’s safety and said he doubted China’s official information about the champion. The tennis world has not heard from the player since she accused a former senior Chinese official of forcing her to have sex in early November.

“The statement issued today (Wednesday) by the Chinese state media about Peng Shuai only raises my concern for its safety and whereabouts,” Steve Simon wrote in a statement released on Wednesday evening. “I find it hard to believe that Peng Shuai actually wrote the email we received and that he could say the words that are attributed to him,” he adds.

What happens after this announcement?

Chinese state channel CGTN announced on Wednesday evening on Twitter the screenshot of an email attributed to Peng Shuai, which the Chinese player allegedly sent to the WTA address, without being able to confirm the authenticity of the message. The comments in this message, originally suspicious, go against the statements of Peng Shuai, who had accused a former prime minister of forcing her to have sex three years ago. “The information, particularly on the sexual assault charge, is false,” the player said in the message. “I’m not missing or in danger. I was just resting at home, everything is fine. Thanks again for checking me out.”

What happens after this announcement?

Forced confessions

The content of this message raised doubts about its authenticity: Twitter users noted that the message broadcast by CGTN showed a cursor, an inexplicable phenomenon for a screenshot. In the past, the communist regime has been accused of making forced confessions of suspects in the public media. The same CGTN channel revoked his British license earlier this year to broadcast a “confession” attributed to a British citizen detained in China.

“Peng Shuai’s latest statements, published by the public media, should not be taken at face value,” said William Nee of the Association of Human Rights Defenders of China. “The Chinese government has a long history of arbitrarily detaining people involved in controversial cases, preventing them from speaking freely and coercing them into public statements,” it said in a statement. “It is up to the Chinese government to show that it is not under arrest.”

What happens after this announcement?

What happens after this announcement?

“Incredible Courage”

The head of the international women’s tennis organization noted that Peng Shuai had “shown incredible courage in describing the sexual violence he claims to have suffered at the hands of a former Chinese leader.” It also calls for “independent and verifiable proof” that the player is safe. “I tried several times to reach her through various media, in vain,” she said, adding that Peng Shuai “was allowed to speak freely, without coercion or intimidation of any kind.”

Former world number one in doubles, 35-year-old accused on social media of former Prime Minister Zhang Gaoli, who was one of the seven most powerful politicians in China between 2013 and 2018, for having forced to have sex. before making her his mistress. The accusation was briefly posted on the player’s official Weibo account (a Chinese equivalent of Twitter) on November 2. China very quickly blocked any reference to this message, which AFP could not confirm if it had actually been written by it.

Since then, the player has not communicated or made a public appearance and Zhang Gaoli has never reacted publicly to these allegations. Interrogated on several occasions, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesmen said they knew nothing about the matter and declined to comment, arguing that it was not a diplomatic dossier. Any reference to this case remains censored on the Chinese Internet.

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