EU wants ‘verifiable proof’ Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai is safe

Top line

The European Union on Tuesday joined growing international demands for proof of the well-being of missing Chinese tennis champion Peng Shuai amid doubts over images of her shared by Chinese state media since she disappeared from the public eye after accusing a powerful Chinese politician of sexual assault.

Highlights

The EU spokesperson said in a declaration he asks “Verifiable proof” that Peng, the former No. 1 in women’s doubles, was safe and an investigation into her now suppressed accusations that former Deputy Prime Minister Zhang Gaoli forced her to have sex with him three years ago years.

The EU “calls on China to comply with its human rights obligations under national and international law, ”the statement said.

China faces growing opposition from athletes like Boston Celtic’s Enes Kanter and human rights groups about hosting the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing over the country’s handling of Peng’s disappearance and alleged human rights issues.

Peng’s recent public reappearance “does not allay concerns about his safety and freedom,” the spokesperson said.

The EU’s position is a sentiment shared by the Women’s Tennis Association, which has deemed Peng’s videos shared by Chinese media as “insufficient” proof that she was free, and tennis stars Roger Federer, Serena Williams , Naomi Osaka and Novak Djokovic all spoke up about his disappearance.

The Chinese Embassy in Washington DC did not respond to Forbes’ request for comment.

Key context

After her disappearance and a storm of worry ensued, Peng reappeared in photos and videos shared by Chinese state media on Twitter. The tweets only snowballed concerns about his safety and location. Last week, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) noted its president Thomas Bach, a Chinese official Li Lingwei and Emma Terho, the president of the athletes’ commission held a 30-minute video call with Peng. Without making the video accessible to the public, the IOC published a photo of the video call and said in a declaration: “Peng Shuai thanked the IOC for its concern for his well-being. She explained that she was fine and lived at her home in Beijing, but that she would like her privacy to be respected at this time. The statement did little to allay concerns about his safety, as it largely echoed an email Peng allegedly wrote to the WTA that Chinese state media shared on Twitter. The email read: “I am not absent, and neither am I in danger. I’m just resting at home. The WTA questioned the authenticity of the email.

Surprising fact

Dick Pound, a long-time IOC member, on Bloomberg TV on Tuesday, called the criticism of the IOC video call “a little idiot and it’s not supported by the evidence, “and last week he told CNN he was”really puzzled”By the public response to the call with Peng.

What to watch out for

The IOC’s response. It came under fire for lack of action on his part to remedy Peng’s fall from public view. China’s Foreign Ministry maintains it has not heard of the disappearance of Peng, 35, and the sexual assault allegations against Zhang, 75.

Tangent

President Joe Biden said his administration was “considering” organizing a diplomatic boycott of the next games due to human rights violations.

Further reading

EU wants ‘verifiable proof’ Chinese tennis player is safe (Associated press)

Olympics official calls criticism of Peng Shuai “silly” (Bloomberg)

Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai told the International Olympic Committee she was “safe and healthy” during video call (CNN)

New videos of missing Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai are “insufficient” proof of her safety, the WTA chief said (Forbes)



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