December 7, 2021

Peng Shuai: Serena Williams says case ‘must be investigated’

Peng Shuai (35) has not been heard from since she made sexual assault allegations against a leading Chinese government official two weeks ago.

Peng Shuai: Serena Williams says case ‘must be investigated’

Peng Shuai: Serena Williams says case ‘must be investigated’ photo credit: BBC

Serena Williams is one of many clamoring for an investigation into the case of missing Chinese player Peng Shuai, Williams urged people “not to stay silent” about her welfare.

Peng Shuai (35) has not been heard from since she made sexual assault allegations against a leading Chinese government official two weeks ago.

Peng accused former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli (75) of pressuring her into sex 10 years ago when he was the party chief of Tianjin and then again three years ago after he had retired. Chang reportedly forced himself on her on that occasion in his bedroom while his wife stood guard outside.

Peng wrote about this in a Weibo post on 2 November, a post that was deleted by censors witin half an hour.  “I did not consent at first. … I cried the whole time. … I said yes because I was scared,” Peng wrote. She had no proof of Zhang’s assault, because his power was overwhelming — “the world is a plaything to you,” she said — and he had prevented her from ever recording anything. But she wanted to speak.

“I have no recordings, no videos, only the true experience of my twisted self. I know that you, high and mighty Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli, have said you’re not afraid,” she said. “But even if I am like an egg cracking against a rock or a moth destroying itself in the flame, I will speak the truth about you.”

Since then, Peng has not been heard of in public – until Thursday morning when the Chinese state channel tweeted a screenshot of what they claimed was an email from her. “Hello everyone this is Peng Shuai,” it said. “I’m not missing, nor am I unsafe. I’ve just been resting at home and everything is fine.”

The sexual assault allegations against Zhang were “not true,” and any further news about Peng should be released only with her consent, it added.

They claimed the image was of an email that Peng had sent but did not explain why they have the so-called email or why a mouse cursor was visible in the text, they also did not post the screenshot on the Chinese internet, where Peng and all posts surrounding her allegations have been erased and where Twitter itself is banned.

Serena Williams is only one of many leading players to speak out about Peng’s welfare, following Novak Djokovic and Naomi Osaka.

“I am devastated and shocked to hear about the news,” said Williams, who is a 23-time Grand Slam singles champion.

“This must be investigated and we must not stay silent.

“Sending love to her and her family during this incredibly difficult time.”

People from across tennis – including past and present players, coaches and journalists – have been demanding answers about Peng’s welfare, as have other high-profile sports stars, actors and politicians.

Sources: BBC, United News Post

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