The US administration is “deeply concerned” by the reports that Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai appears to be missing after accusing a former PRC official of sexual assaults, said White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Friday (local time). “The US wants China to provide verifiable proofs of her whereabouts and that she is safe,” Psaki said during a press briefing at the White House on Friday. Emphasising that the US is aware that China has “zero tolerance” for criticism, Psaki said that Beijing has “a record of silencing those who speak out”. “And we continue to condemn those practices,” Psaki said. She also said that reports of sexual assault should be investigated first. Stressing that the US supports women’s ability to speak out against such acts around the world, Psaki said that Washington continues to stand up for the freedom of speech.
Peng has been incommunicado since she accused a former ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leader of pressuring her into a sexual relationship, Radio Free Asia reported. She expressed these claims in a social media post on November 2, drawing concerns from Chinese feminist campaigners and international sports associations. Following her claims, an email allegedly from Peng was broadcasted by Beijing’s mouthpiece CGTN on November 17, saying Peng’s allegations were “not true,” and that she isn’t “missing”, Radio Free Asia reported.”I’m not missing, nor am I unsafe, I’ve been resting at home and everything is fine,” CGTN quoted the email as saying.
Concerns among the global tennis community have grown as Peng has not been seen since the post. The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) has called for a “full, fair, and transparent investigation” into allegations of sexual assault made by player Peng Shuai against a former Chinese vice premier.