A top Chinese tennis player appears to have disappeared after accusing a member of the Chinese government of sexually assaulting her.
Peng Shuai, a high-ranking doubles player in the Women's Tennis Association, has not posted on her social media in 10 days after accusing a former vice premier of China of sexual assault.
"The recent events in China concerning a WTA player, Peng Shuai, are of deep concern," said Women's Tennis Association CEO Steve Simon in a statement to Reuters. "Peng Shuai, and all women, deserve to be heard, not censored. Her accusation about the conduct of a former Chinese leader involving a sexual assault must be treated with the utmost seriousness."
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In a statement posted on the Chinese social network Weibo on Nov. 3, Peng accused Zhang Gaoli, a member of the Politburo Standing Committee of China, of coercing her into sex and a nonconsensual relationship. The post was deleted within a half-hour, but screenshots eventually spread across private chat groups and search terms including Shuai's name grew across the Chinese internet.
The WTA called for China to investigate the allegations surrounding Shuai on Monday. Simon also claims the Chinese Tennis Association told him Shuai was safe and "not under any physical threat."
Others are not convinced the CTA has Shuai's best interests in mind. Fellow WTA athlete Chris Evert tweeted on Sunday the accusations are "very disturbing."
"I've known Peng since she was 14," Evert tweeted. "We should all be concerned; this is serious; where is she? Is she safe? Any information would be appreciated."
Yes, these accusations are very disturbing. I’ve known Peng since she was 14; we should all be concerned; this is serious; where is she? Is she safe? Any information would be appreciated.🙏 https://t.co/RH0aYCDqQm— Chris Evert (@ChrissieEvert) November 14, 2021
The hashtag #WhereisPengShuai has rallied fans out of concern for the player's well-being on Twitter and elsewhere.
Shuai made a name for herself as a tennis star by winning 23 tour-level doubles titles, including the Grand Slams at Wimbledon in 2013 and the French Open in 2014.
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Shuai's allegations of sexual assault are the first to be heard regarding Chinese government officials since #MeToo entered China.
Chinese officials from the State Council Information Office did not immediately respond to requests for comment by the Washington Examiner.