Doubt has been cast over the origins of an email that Chinese state media has attributed to missing tennis player, Peng Shuai.
The Chinese tennis star disappeared from the public eye after alleging on social media that the country’s former vice premier, Zhang Gaoli, sexually abused her.
The Women’s Tennis Association had pressed the Chinese government to investigate Shuai’s allegations and was working to determine her welfare. In response, Chinese state media revealed an email which they claim was sent by Shuai.
The email, reportedly sent to WTA chairman Steve Simon, stated that Shuai was “resting at home and everything is fine.” It also said that Shuai’s allegation of sexual assault was “not true” and that news outlets reported it without her permission.
Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai has sent an email to Steve Simon, the WTA Chairman & CEO, CGTN has learned. The email reads: pic.twitter.com/uLi6Zd2jDI
— CGTN (@CGTNOfficial) November 17, 2021
Issuing a statement in response, Simon wrote that the email only raises his concerns further.
“I have a hard time believing that Peng Shuai actually wrote the email we received or believes what is being attributed to her,” wrote Simon. “Peng Shuai displayed incredible courage in describing an allegation of sexual assault against a former top official in the Chinese government.”
Statement by Steve Simon, WTA Chairman & CEO:
The statement released today by Chinese state media concerning Peng Shuai only raises my concerns as to her safety and whereabouts. Peng Shuai must be allowed to speak freely, without coercion or intimidation from any source.
— wta (@WTA) November 17, 2021
“The WTA and the rest of the world need independent and verifiable proof that she is safe,” he added. “I have repeatedly tried to reach her via numerous forms of communication, to no avail.”
“Peng Shuai must be allowed to speak freely, without coercion or intimidation from any source. Her allegations of sexual assault must be respected, investigated with full transparency and without censorship.”
You can find more celebrity news on our website and iOS & Android application.