China have asked people to stop "hyping up the incident around Peng Shuai in response to the tennis stars'' disappearance from public. Many people have raised concerns about her whereabouts and wellbeing.
Peng vanished from the public eye three weeks after she accused former vice premier Zhang Gaoli that he had sexually assualted her and coerced into sexual intercourse.
The accusations which went up on social media site Weibo have been wiped from the internet by China's severe authorian web policy.
It is terrifying that a woman who has made an allegation of sexual abuse against a powerful man is now missing. Pressure must be brought to bear on the Chinese state. #WHEREISPENGSHAUI #SayHerName #PengShuai pic.twitter.com/zsXtMDLgRF
— Joanna Cherry QC (@joannaccherry) November 20, 2021
Peng did appear at the junior tennis tournaments in the last few days and also had a video call with the IOC to show she was safe and well. The video including photos purporting to show her smiling with a grey cat surrounded by soft toys - was published by state media, and not Peng herself.
They have been met with scepticism.
Steve Simon, head of the Women's Tennis Association (WTA), wrote: "
While it is positive to see her, it remains unclear if she is free and able to make decisions and take actions on her own, without coercion or external interference. This video alone is insufficient.
"As I have stated from the beginning, I remain concerned about Peng Shuai's health and safety and that the allegation of sexual assault is being censored and swept under the rug."
Peng Shuai’s WeChat moments just posted three latest photos and said “Happy weekend”.
Her friend shared the three photos and the screenshot of Peng’s WeChat moments. pic.twitter.com/tut8CEH6gu
— Shen Shiwei 沈诗伟 (@shen_shiwei) November 19, 2021
On Tuesday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian, told reporters:
"This is not a diplomatic matter. I believe everyone will have seen that she has recently attended some public activities and also held a video call with IOC President (Thomas) Bach. I hope certain people will cease malicious hyping, let alone politicisation."
The UK, US, France, and tennis players including Naomi Osaka, Serena Williams and Andy Murray have all expressed concerns over Peng, a former Olympian and doubles world number one.
Beijing is preparing to host the Winter Olympics next February and the WTA have said that they will look to pull tennis events out of China if she is not returned safe and well.
Global rights groups and others have called for a boycott of the games over China's human rights record.