Where is Peng Shuai? Disappearance of Chinese tennis star unites world leaders

Published on Nov 20, 2021 11:44 AM IST

The United States and the United Nations have demanded proof of the well-being of Peng Shuai, who claimed she was sexually exploited by a former vice-premier of China. The Chinese foreign ministry said it is not aware of the controversy.

Peng Shuai made the accusation against Communist Party grandee Zhang Gaoli more than two weeks ago.(Reuters File Photo)
Peng Shuai made the accusation against Communist Party grandee Zhang Gaoli more than two weeks ago.(Reuters File Photo)
By | Written by Amit Chaturvedi, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

The disappearance of Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai is gaining steam across the world, with the United States and the United Nations demanding proof of her whereabouts and well-being. Peng has been missing since alleging she was sexually exploited by a former vice-premier of China.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Friday that President Joe Biden's administration wanted China to "provide independent, verifiable proof" of Peng's whereabouts and expressed "deep concern" about the former world top-ranked doubles player.

The United Nations insisted on a fully transparent investigation into the claims made by Peng against Communist Party grandee Zhang Gaoli.

The Women's Tennis Association (WTA) threatened to pull tournaments out of China over Peng's disappearance.

China, meanwhile, said it is not aware of the controversy surrounding Peng Shuai. Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian told reporters that the matter was “not a diplomatic question and I’m not aware of the situation.”

The ministry has consistently disavowed knowledge of the issue since Peng made her accusation more than two weeks ago.

Peng's social media post about the allegation was quickly deleted and the topic has been blocked from discussion on China's heavily censored internet.

A prominent state-media journalist, however, said Peng has been staying in her own home "freely" and will make a public appearance "soon".

"In the past few days, she stayed in her own home freely and she didn't want to be disturbed. She will show up in public and participate in some activities soon," Global Times editor-in-chief Hu Xijin said on Twitter.

The Global Times is published by the People's Daily, the official newspaper of China’s ruling Communist Party.

The 35-year-old former top-ranked player in women’s doubles won titles at Wimbledon in 2013 and the French Open in 2014. Peng also participated in three Olympics, making her disappearance all the more prominent with Beijing set to host the Winter Games starting February 4.

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