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Tennis Star Who Accused Chinese Official of Sexual Assault Now Missing

Chinese authorities censor internet references to doubles player Peng Shuai

Tennis star Peng Shuai in 2014 / Getty Images
• November 15, 2021 1:30 pm

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A Chinese tennis star who accused a former Communist Party official of sexual assault is now missing, according to the Women's Tennis Association.

Peng Shuai has not appeared in public since Nov. 2, when in a social media post she accused former vice premier Zhang Gaoli of sexual assault. While the Chinese Tennis Association has told Women's Tennis Association CEO Steve Simon that Peng is "safe," Simon says WTA officials and players have been unable to contact Peng, according to the New York Times.

Simon in a statement Sunday called on Chinese authorities to investigate Peng's claim and threatened to cut WTA's ties with China, where it hosts 11 tournaments.

"If at the end of the day, we don't see the appropriate results from this, we would be prepared to take that step and not operate our business in China if that's what it came to," Simon said.

Peng, a Wimbledon and French Open doubles champion, said Zhang sexually assaulted her in 2018 after inviting her to play at his home. Peng's message on the Chinese social media site Weibo was removed shortly after she posted it, and Chinese authorities have censored references to the tennis star from web searches, according to the Times.

China has a history of retaliating against sports figures who speak out against the Chinese Communist Party. The country pulled Boston Celtics games from China's streaming services last month after the team's center, Enes Kanter, called President Xi Jinping a "brutal dictator."

Published under: China, Xi Jinping