Bing Shuai: Mystery deepens over missing Chinese tennis player after ‘new photos’ surface | world News

The mystery surrounding Peng Shuai has taken a new turn after photos allegedly showing the missing Chinese tennis player surfaced.

Three photos posted on Twitter by journalist Shen Xuyi working for CGTN, the international arm of the government-controlled CCTV station, show the 35-year-old smiling with a gray cat while surrounded by soft toys.

Mr Shen said the images were posted on the player’s WeChat messaging app along with text that read: “Happy weekend.”

Bing Shuai in a photo allegedly posted by the missing Chinese tennis player
The photos show the 35-year-old smiling with a gray cat while surrounded by soft toys
Bing Shuai

“Her friend shared the three photos and a snapshot of her Bing moments on WeChat,” he added.

Experts expressed doubts about the authenticity of the photos.

Others also noted the presence in one of the photos a framed picture of Winnie the Pooh – a character banned in China after people mocked him as President Xi Jinping.

Ping, the former Wimbledon doubles champion, has disappeared after writing a social media post on November 2 accusing a former senior government official of forcing her to have sex after playing tennis at his home. Her original post on Weibo has been deleted.

CGTN released an email purportedly from Peng on Wednesday, but doubts were also raised about its authenticity.

She says the sexual assault claim is “incorrect” and adds, “I’m not missing out, I’m not safe. I’ve just been resting at home and everything is fine.”

It comes after Andy Murray and the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) joined an online campaign to help find Peng.

The two-time Wimbledon champion tweeted her “current whereabouts (unknown) after sexual assault allegations were made against a Chinese government official (A).”

The association said the situation was “extremely worrying” and that “the immediate priority is to establish that Peng Shuai is safe and in good health.”

The association added that it was important for Peng “to be able to speak freely and not be subject to any form of censorship.”

Murray linked his tweet to a video of Czech player Barbora Krejkova talking about her country’s liberation from communism during the 1989 Velvet Revolution.

Martina Navratilova, who is standing behind Krizhikova, cries. Navratilova defected from communist Czechoslovakia early in her career, becoming a US citizen in 1981. The revolution ended communist rule in the country and in 1993, the nation was dissolved, becoming the independent states of the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Of the footage, Murray said: “This letter gives us a reminder and some hope that things can change in the future. #WhereIsPengShuai.”

Among them are other tennis stars including Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka and Novak Djokovic worried about her whereabouts.

The association added in a statement that it had sent a letter to the Women’s Tennis Association offering its assistance in efforts to establish the “safety and well-being” of Peng.

“We are also keen to support any other measures the tours can introduce to improve the safety of all players,” the association added.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry claimed on Friday that it was not aware of the controversy.

“It is not a diplomatic question and I am not aware of the situation,” ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters.

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Messages about the ‘censorship’ of the Chinese tennis player

It “only worries me about her safety and whereabouts,” said Steve Simon, president of the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA).

“I find it hard to believe that Peng Shuai actually wrote the email we received or to believe what is attributed to her,” he said, in the current situation.

“Peng Shuai showed incredible courage in describing allegations of sexual assault against a former senior Chinese government official.

“The WTA and the rest of the world need independent and verifiable evidence of her integrity. I have tried over and over to reach her through various means of communication, but to no avail.”

Mr Simon said Ping’s allegation of sexual assault should be investigated “with complete transparency” and she should be allowed to speak “without coercion or intimidation”.

Speaking to NBC News, he also raised the possibility of rethinking WTA events in China If things are not resolved satisfactorily.

Human rights group Amnesty International said the Chinese authorities must establish that Ping is safe and fully investigate allegations of sexual abuse.

China scholar Dorian Lau said the country has a “track record of forcing individuals to make coerced, or simply fabricate, statements”.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the United States was “deeply concerned” about the situation, adding: “We join the calls for the authorities of the People’s Republic of China to provide independent, verifiable evidence of their whereabouts and that they are safe.”

“I can’t speak … to the specifics of the case or any other details of where it is, of course, but I want to make clear the position of the United States in general.

“First: Any report of sexual assault must be investigated and we support women’s ability to speak out and take responsibility, both here and around the world.

“Second: We will continue to defend freedom of expression knowing that the People’s Republic of China has zero tolerance for criticism and has a history of silencing those who speak out, and we continue to condemn such practices.”

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