Thu. Jan 20th, 2022

The European Union said it wanted China to release “verifiable evidence” that tennis player Peng Shuai was safe and that it was conducting a thorough and transparent investigation into her allegations of sexual assault.

Peng, a triple Olympic player and former top-ranked doubles player, fell out of public view after accusing a former Communist Party official of sexual assault.

Peng Shuai tells the IOC that she is safe

Peng has had few direct contacts with officials outside China since she disappeared from the public eye earlier this month. She told Olympic officials in a video call on November 21 from Beijing that she was safe and sound.

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“Her recent public appearance does not alleviate concerns about her security and freedom,” an EU spokesman said.

Peng made allegations of sexual assault online against a former member of the ruling standing committee of the Communist Party, Zhang Gaoli. The tennis player’s post was removed within minutes and she stopped performing in public.

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“The EU endorses growing international demands, including from sports professionals, for assurances that she is free and not threatened,” the EU said in a statement. “In this spirit, the EU calls on the Chinese Government to provide verifiable evidence of Peng Shuai’s safety, well-being and whereabouts. The EU urges the Chinese authorities to conduct a full, fair and transparent investigation into her allegations of sexual assault.”

Peng adds to a growing number of Chinese businessmen, activists and ordinary people who have disappeared from the public eye in recent years after criticizing party figures or in suppressing corruption or pro-democracy and labor rights campaigns.

“The EU strongly opposes the use of forced disappearance and arbitrary detention practices … and calls on China to comply with its human rights obligations under national and international law,” the EU said.

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