Chinese state media releases Peng Shuai photos amid disappearance concerns
- A state TV employee who posted the photos said they were on Peng's WeChat account
- The editor of a newspaper published by the ruling Communist Party said Peng will “show up in public” soon
- "In the past few days, she stayed in her own home freely and she didn’t want to be disturbed," the editor said
A Chinese state TV employee has posted photos of missing tennis star Peng Shuai on social media with concerns surrounding her disappearance after she accused a senior leader of sexual assault becoming a global uproar.
The photos were posted on Friday on Twitter, which is restricted in China. Shen Shiwei – the state TV employee who posted them – said that the photos were on Peng’s account on the WeChat messaging service with the caption “Happy Weekend”.
This comes after the editor of a newspaper published by China’s ruling Communist Party said Peng will “show up in public” soon.
Global tennis stars – including Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams – the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), the United Nations and the United States have recently called on China to prove Peng, a three-time Olympian and a former World No 1 women’s doubles player, is safe and is allowed to speak freely.
The controversy creates a number of issues for China with Beijing set to host the Winter Olympics in February. On Friday, a foreign ministry spokesperson denied knowing about the controversy surrounding Peng’s disappearance.
Peng has not been seen in public since posting a statement on social media, wherein she accused Zhang Gaoli, a former member of the Party’s Standing Committee – the inner circle of power – of forcing her to have sex despite repeated refusals.
Shen works for CGTN, the English-language arm of China Central Television that caters to foreign audiences. His post on Twitter came after CGTN released a statement, claiming it came from Peng retracting her allegations against Zhang.
The editor of Global Times, an English language newspaper published by the Communist Party, said on Twitter that he had confirmed from unidentified sources that the photos “are indeed Pen Shuai’s current state”.
“In the past few days, she stayed in her own home freely and she didn’t want to be disturbed. She will show up in public and participate in some activities soon,” the editor, Hu Xijin, said.
(With inputs from the Associated Press)