Pictures and many questions: a Bing Shuai Smiling appeared on social media at a time when international pressure was mounting China To provide information on the whereabouts of the tennis player.
Peng Shuai, 35, the world number one doubles star and a star in her country, has not appeared in public since Zhang Gaoli, the powerful former head of the Chinese Communist Party, who is 40 years her senior, accused her of forcing her. intercourse.
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The message, which was posted briefly in early November on the player’s official account on Weibo (China’s equivalent of Twitter), before it was censored online in the Asian country, describes a forced relationship with Zhang, a married man.
In that letter attributed to Peng Shuai but which AFP could not verify its authenticity, the tennis player noted that Zhang Gaoli had resumed contact with her when he retired from politics in 2018, sparking a forced sexual encounter. Since those assertions, Peng Shuai’s fate raises many questions.
“In recent days she has been staying at home with complete freedom and doesn’t want to be disturbed,” Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of China’s powerful nationalist newspaper, Global Times, said on Saturday.
He wrote in English on Twitter, a social network banned in China, that Bing Shuai “will appear in public very soon”. However, Hu, who prides himself on being close to power, did not mention the issue on Weibo.
“I am convinced that the false speculation (regarding Bing Shuai’s fate) will eventually be refuted,” he wrote on Friday. Several countries, including the United States and France, on Friday expressed their “concern” about the tennis player’s fate. The United Nations asked for proof that she was safe and sound, while the hashtag #WhereisPengShuai (#Where isPengShuai) spread like wildfire on social media.
Meanwhile, four photos of the tennis player were posted on Friday afternoon on the Twitter account of shen_shiwei, which the social network identified as “Chinese state media”.
Agence France-Presse could not independently determine when the photos were taken. In one photo, the young woman is shown smiling with a cat in her arms, in what appears to be her home, while another photo is shown of Peng Shuai with a statue of Kung Fu Panda.
The English-language Twitter account notes that these photos were uploaded privately by the tennis player to a social network wishing her contacts a “good weekend”.
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The photos are captioned “Today” in Mandarin Chinese to indicate the date of publication. Twitter is a blocked network in China and can only be accessed by people with a VPN connection. However, many Chinese diplomats and state media have created accounts to defend the Chinese viewpoint in recent years.
Two weeks after Peng Shuai made the allegations, Chinese public television CGTN on Wednesday showed a screenshot of an email he reportedly wrote. The series, in English and aimed at a foreign audience, reported that the Chinese player personally sent him to the administration of the WTA, the body that manages the women’s professional circuit of the WTA.
On CNN, its boss Steve Simon questioned the authenticity of an email in which Shuai called his accusations against Zhang Gaoli “false.”
“I don’t think that’s the truth at all,” Simon said, describing the email in question as “staging.” “If she was forced to write it, if someone wrote it for her, we don’t know […] “But until we talk to her, we will not be calm,” the WTA leader added.
The case of Peng Shuai is censored in China and the tennis player’s environment did not want to comment on it. Former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli, who was one of China’s seven most powerful political leaders from 2013 to 2018, has not publicly responded to the accusations.
The video was published this Sunday, in which the tennis player was seen participating with the audience, but no one is confirming her true status. Has it been manipulated?
Can any girl fake such a sunny smile under pressure? Those who suspect that Peng Shuai is under duress, how dark they must be inside. There must be many coercive political shows in their country. pic.twitter.com/2oDOghBTvA
– Hu Xijin Hu Xijin (@HuXijin_GT) November 21, 2021
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France Press agency
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