New Brunswick Tribune

Thursday, November 30, 2023

A remark attributed to a Chinese tennis star raises worries about her safety

Key takeaways:

  • Steve Simon, WTA chair and CEO, claimed that a comment attributed to Peng Shuai and tweeted by CGTN was false.
  • ATP head Andrea Gaudenzi and four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka have expressed concern about Peng’s safety.

According to Chinese state media, the chairman of the women’s professional tennis tour questioned the credibility of a retraction by a Grand Slam doubles champion who has accused a former high government official of sexual assault.

WTA chair and CEO Steve Simon stated Wednesday that a statement purported to Peng Shuai and tweeted by CGTN, the international arm of Chinese official broadcaster CCTV, which claimed to contain the contents of an email she addressed to Simon, “only deepens my concerns as to her safety and whereabouts.”

Peng, a 35-year-old Chinese player who won titles at Wimbledon in 2013 and the French Open in 2014, is a former No. 1 ranked player in women’s doubles.

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In a lengthy social media post earlier this month, she claimed that despite her repeated refusals, a former vice-premier and member of the ruling Communist Party’s Politburo Standing Committee forced her to have sex.

The message was taken from her verified account on Weibo, a popular Chinese social media platform, and the country’s state-controlled media have censored all news on the issue.

Simon urged a complete investigation and that Peng not be silenced on Sunday. In addition, ATP head Andrea Gaudenzi and four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka have expressed concern about Peng’s safety.

The allegation was “not accurate,” according to a statement reported to Peng by CGTN on Wednesday.

Statement attributed to Chinese tennis player raises concerns about her  safety.

CGTN, the international arm of state broadcaster CCTV, is one of the many propaganda instruments used by the Chinese Communist Party to shape foreign opinion. 

The British television regulator Ofcom has previously sanctioned it for airing forced confessions from a British businessman, a Hong Kong bookseller, and a British consulate employee in Hong Kong.

Simon added, “I have a hard time believing Peng Shuai wrote the email we received or thought what is being attributed to her.” “Peng Shuai showed remarkable bravery in describing a sexual assault complaint against a former Chinese government official. 

The WTA, as well as the rest of the world, requires independent and verified confirmation of her safety. I’ve attempted multiple times to contact her via various means of communication, but to no effect.”

Simon’s statement, which the WTA distributed, went on to say: “Peng Shuai must be given the freedom to share his mind without fear of retaliation. 

Her claim of sexual assault must be taken seriously and thoroughly investigated without censorship. Women’s voices must be heard and appreciated, rather than silenced or dictated.”

Following a round of tennis 3 years ago, Peng said that Zhang Gaoli compelled her to have sex despite her numerous refusals. During the incident, she said Zhang’s wife guarded the door.

She also stated in her article that they had intercourse seven years ago and that she had feelings for him after that.

Source: CBC News

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