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Email supposedly from missing Chinese tennis star raises concern for her safety

2 years 6 months 3 days ago Thursday, November 18 2021 Nov 18, 2021 November 18, 2021 5:36 AM November 18, 2021 in News
Source: BBC News
Peng Shuai

Chinese state media, CGTN, on Wednesday released an email supposedly written by missing Chinese tennis star, Peng Shuai, claiming she is fine. But many have doubts about the source of the email, and whether or not the tennis star is actually safe. 

According to BBC News, 35-year-old Shuai has not been seen or heard from in weeks, shortly after she publicly accused a once high-ranking Chinese official of sexual assault.

Shuai used social media platform, Weibo to make the accusation, saying she'd had an affair with former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli, and that after their relationship ended he brought her to his home and forced her to have sex with him.

The open letter was posted earlier in November. Shortly after it was posted, the tennis star's online profile virtually disappeared and she disappeared from society. 

Searching for her name on the Chinese internet now brings up a notice that says, "No Results Found."

This, despite the fact that Shuai is a prominent figure in Chinese tennis who won two Grand Slams at Wimbledon in 2013 and the 2014 French Open.

Now, the email that was supposedly written by Shuai appears bizarre to many. Some even suspect that if it was written by the athlete, it may have been composed under duress. 

In the email, Shuai backtracks on the allegations against Gaoli, saying they are, "not true" and attempts to address her absence from society with the words, "I've just been resting at home and everything is fine."

BBC News says the image of the email that was released by the state controlled TV network CGTN appears to be a screenshot, with a cursor hovering on the page and no other domestic media outlet has picked it up.

CGTN's release has only triggered increased suspicions about the athlete's whereabouts.

The head of the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) is one of many who has expressed doubts regarding the email.

WTA chair Steve Simon said, "I have a hard time believing that Peng Shuai actually wrote the email we received or believes what is being attributed to her."

He added that it, "only raises my concerns as to her safety and whereabouts," and said the entire world wants proof of her safety. 

Simon also said Shuai's claim of sexual assault must be investigated "with full transparency and without censorship."

"The voices of women need to be heard and respected, not censored nor dictated to," he added.

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