Fear is building over the safety and well-being of Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai, especially as a Chinese-state media outlet published an email claiming to be from Peng, but those close to the matter believe that she did not author it.
Peng is the former world doubles champion. She has not been heard from publicly at all since she said online that Zhang Gaoli, a former vice premier of China, had committed sexual assault against her. She posted about it earlier this month, on Nov 2. After that, Peng has virtually disappeared.
Peng made the statement on China’s version of Twitter, “Weibo.” It was removed and blocked within 30 minutes. Even related hashtags and search words like “tennis” were promptly banned. Despite attempts to silence the allegations, the post went viral.
Following Peng’s statements, the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) issued a statement that called upon the Chinese government to investigate the allegations.
The organization’s chairman and CEO, Steve Simon, said publicly that he was given “assurances” from the Chinese government that Peng was safe, but no one from the WTA was actually able to contact her, meaning there lacked any confirmation of her well-being.
On Wednesday, China Global Television, the country’s state media that is in the English language, published on Twitter a letter and claimed it was sent from Peng to Simon.
But Simon immediately responded with extreme skepticism over whether the letter came from her. He said he is now even more worried for Peng’s welfare.
The letter stated that the claims of sexual assault were not true and to not worry about her well-being because she was safe. “Everything is fine,” it said.
The letter was not published anywhere within China, and only published on the one English state owned media’s twitter account. The screenshot of the letter even included a cursor over it, causing questions of authenticity.