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Photos of missing Chinese tennis star posted


As Tennis greats and other world humanitarians join the search and demands to know where Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai is, Chinese state TV has posted online photos of the missing Olympian in an attempt to dispel rumors concerning her whereabouts. The photos appeared Friday on Twitter, which cannot be seen by most internet users in China, as the restrictions to the internet are closely guarded by the Chinese government. As reported by the AP:

The editor of a Chinese newspaper published by the party, said Peng would ‘show up in public’ soon  

BEIJING (AP) — An employee of Chinese state TV has posted photos of missing tennis star Peng Shuai online in a new effort to dispel concern about her disappearance after she accused a senior leader of sexual assault.

Peng Shuai of China wipes her face during the women’s singles match against Samantha Stosur of Australia on the second day at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, on July 3, 2018. China’s Foreign Ministry is sticking to its line that it isn’t aware of the controversy surrounding tennis professional Peng Shuai, who disappeared after accusing a former top official of sexually assaulting her. A ministry spokesperson said Friday that the matter was not a diplomatic question and that he was not aware of the situation. (AP Photo/Tim Ireland, File)

The photos appeared Friday on Twitter, which cannot be seen by most internet users in China. The state TV employee, Shen Shiwei, wrote they were on Peng’s account on the WeChat message service with the comment, “Happy Weekend.”

The ruling Communist Party faces mounting appeals from tennis stars and the sport’s professional tour to prove Peng, a three-time Olympian and former No. 1-ranked women’s doubles player, is safe and let her speak freely.

FILE – Peng Shuai of China returns a ball during the semifinal match against Shahar Peer of Israel, unseen, in the Guangzhou WTA Tour in Guangzhou in south China’s Guangdong province Saturday, Sept. 19, 2009. An email purportedly from Chinese professional tennis player Shuai that a Chinese state media outlet posted on Twitter has increased concerns about her safety as the sport’s biggest stars and others abroad call for information about her well-being and whereabouts since her accusation about two weeks ago that she was sexually assaulted by a former top government official. (AP Photo, File)

Meanwhile, the editor of a newspaper published by the party said Peng would “show up in public” soon.

The controversy is politically awkward as the Chinese capital prepares to hold the Winter Olympics in February. A Foreign Ministry spokesperson on Friday denied knowing about the outcry over Peng’s disappearance.

FILE – China’s Shuai Peng serves the ball to France’s Caroline Garcia during their second round match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium, Thursday, May 31, 2018, in Paris. Chinese authorities have squelched virtually all online discussion of sexual assault accusations apparently made by the Chinese professional tennis star against a former top government official, showing how sensitive the ruling Communist Party is to such charges. (AP Photo/Michel Euler, File)

Peng, 35, hasn’t been seen in public since posting a statement on social media this month accusing Zhang Gaoli, a former member of the party’s Standing Committee, the ruling 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 is aimed at foreign audiences. His Twitter post came after CGTN this week distributed a statement it said came from Peng that retracted the accusations against Zhang.

The editor of Global Times, an English-language newspaper published by the Communist Party, said on Twitter he had confirmed from unidentified sources that the photos “are indeed Peng Shuai’s current state.”

FILE – Peng Shuai, of China, drops to her knees in pain during the semifinals of the 2014 U.S. Open tennis tournament against Caroline Wozniacki, of Denmark, on Sept. 5, 2014, in New York. Struggling to stay upright as suffocating heat and humidity drained her energy in the U.S. Open semifinals, Peng Shuai refused to give up. She paused between points to clutch at her left thigh and put her weight on her racket as if it were a cane. Helped off the court and diagnosed with heat stroke, doctors told her to quit. But Peng still came back for more. Six more points until she eventually collapsed to the ground and Caroline Wozniacki, her opponent in that 2014 match, came around the net to check on her. Only then, with her body pushed to the absolute limit — maybe even beyond the limit — did Peng retire from the match that marked the pinnacle of her singles career. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)

“In the past few days, she stayed in her own home freely and she didn’t want to be disturbed,” wrote the editor, Hu Xijin. “She will show up in public and participate in some activities soon.”

The photos showed Peng with a gray cat and holding a panda figurine in what appeared to be a private home with stuffed animals lined up behind her. There was no indication when the photos were taken.

The chairman and CEO of the Women’s Tennis Association, Steve Simon, on Wednesday questioned the legitimacy of the statement released by CGTN. Simon said it “only raises my concerns as to her safety.”

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