An e-mail, published by Chinese state media on Twitter, which is supposed to have been launched by a professional Chinese tennis player, has raised concerns about her safety.
Well-known sports names and other personalities abroad have called on Beijing to provide information on where the tennis player is and if she is OK. But so far these calls have been met with silence.
Chinese officials have not said anything publicly since the famous Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai accused a former senior government official of sexual assault.
This is the first case made public within the #MeToo movement that touches the political sphere in China. He has not been reported by the local media and debates on the issue have been censored online.
The chief executive of the Women’s Tennis Association, Steve Simon, cast doubt on the email, which was addressed to him himself. The email, allegedly written by Ms. Peng, states that she was not in danger and that the allegation of sexual assault is not true. Emali was published on Thursday by the Chinese state press.
“I find it hard to believe that it was Peng Shuai himself who wrote the email we received,” wrote Simon.
He added that the e-mail “raises concerns about its security and location”.
Mr. Simon has requested a full investigation into the matter. The Women’s Tennis Association said it is prepared not to hold more tournaments in China if it does not get the right response. Well-known tennis names such as Naomi Osaka and Novak Djokovic have spoken openly on the issue. The hashtag #WhereisPengShuai is being widely discussed online.
China censored the #MeToo movement which flourished for a short time in 2018. Meanwhile, authorities are making preparations for the Beijing Winter Olympics scheduled to take place in February. Activists and some international politicians, concerned about the human rights situation in China, have called for a boycott.
Asked several times about the issue, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said again on Thursday that he knew nothing.
On November 2, 35-year-old Peng wrote in a lengthy post on social media that three years ago Zhang Gaoli, a former deputy prime minister and member of the Communist Party’s central committee, had forced her to have sex despite repeated refusals.
The post was immediately deleted from her Weibo account, the main Chinese social media platform, but photos of what was written quickly spread online in China. Since then, the former tennis player has not appeared in public, which has raised questions about her whereabouts and if she is being held somewhere, against her will.
Zhang Gaoli, 75, retired from public life after retiring in 2018, as is the tradition for former senior officials. There is no information on whether he has any close ties to current leaders.
The tennis player is accused of sexual assault for the first time against a powerful politician in China. The allegations in the past have affected prominent figures working in nonprofits, academics and the media, but have never reached senior Communist Party officials or state-owned companies.
To be part of the group »AOL“just click: Join Group and your request will be approved immediately.