The star of world tennis, the American Serena Williams, said Thursday she was "devastated and shocked" by the situation of the Chinese player Peng Shuai, who has not given any news since the beginning of November after having accused, on the networks social media, former Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli for coercing her into sex.
I am devastated and shocked to hear about the news of my peer, Peng Shuai.
I hope she is safe and found as soon as possible.
This must be investigated and we must not stay silent.
Sending love to her and her family during this incredibly difficult time.
- Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) November 18, 2021
Since her disappearance on November 4, hundreds of anonymous and international tennis figures have questioned the young woman's disappearance and used the hashtag #WhereIsPengShuai (# WhereEstPengShuai), underlining the incredulity of such a situation.
Serious doubts about the authenticity of an email
Chinese state channel CGTN unveiled on Twitter on Wednesday evening the screenshot of an email attributed to Peng Shuai, which the Chinese player allegedly sent to the WTA management, without the authenticity of the message being confirmed. .
Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai has sent an email to Steve Simon, the WTA Chairman & CEO, CGTN has learned.
The email reads: pic.twitter.com/uLi6Zd2jDI
- CGTN (@CGTNOfficial) November 17, 2021
The comments in the originally suspicious post go against the claims of Peng Shuai, who accused a former deputy prime minister of coercing her into sex three years ago.
"The information, especially concerning the accusation of sexual assault, is false," said the player in this message.
“I am neither missing nor in danger.
I was just resting at home, everything is fine.
Thanks again for hearing from me ”.
The content of this message raised doubts as to its authenticity: Twitter users noted that a cursor was visible on the message broadcast by CGTN, an inexplicable phenomenon for a screenshot.
CGTN already pinned for this kind of practice
"The statement released today (Wednesday) by the Chinese official media regarding Peng Shuai only increases my concern about his safety and his whereabouts," wrote Steve Simon, the boss of the WTA, who manages the professional circuit. women's tennis, in a statement released Wednesday evening.
"I find it hard to believe that Peng Shuai actually wrote down the email we received and that she could mean the words attributed to her," he adds.
In the past, the Communist regime has been accused of broadcasting forced confessions of suspects on the public media.
The same channel CGTN had its license withdrawn in the United Kingdom at the beginning of the year for having broadcast a "confession" attributed to a British citizen arrested in China.
Still no reaction from former minister Zhang Gaoli
The 35-year-old former world No. 1 doubles social media accuser of former vice premier Zhang Gaoli, who from 2013 to 2018 was one of China's seven most powerful politicians , to have forced her to have sex before making her his mistress.
This accusation was briefly posted on November 2 on the player's official Weibo account (a Chinese equivalent of Twitter).
China quickly blocked any reference to this message, which AFP was unable to confirm if it had been written by it.
Since then, the player has not communicated or made a public appearance and Zhang Gaoli has never reacted publicly to these accusations.
Questioned several times, the spokespersons of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said to ignore everything about this affair and refused to comment, arguing that it was not a diplomatic file.
Any reference to this case remains censored on the Chinese internet.