Official photos of a tennis tournament in Beijing on Sunday, Nov. 21, revealed the presence of Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai.
Dressed in a dark blue jacket and white trousers, Shuai was seated among the guests at the Fila Kids Junior Tennis Challenger Finals, in reference to the images shared on Weibo.
The condition of the former double player champion is under international scrutiny as she came out on Chinese social media accusing former vice-premier Zhang Gaoli of sexual assault.
She had disappeared since the accusation was posted. While famous tennis players have also asked about her whereabouts, supporters are using global hashtags such as #whereispengshuai to pressure for information.
As the Chinese Communist regime is notorious for strictly protecting images of its politicians, concerns only grow as details of Shuai’s whereabouts and safety remain inconclusive.
A footage of her presence at the youth tennis event was later shared by Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of Chinese state media Global Times.
Reacting to the Sunday images and footage, the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) said the evidence was still “insufficient” to prove that Shuai is currently safe for speaking up.
The WTA has demanded a transparent investigation by the Chinese government into Shuai’s case, as well as a stop in censorship. It also is threatening to pull its tournament out of the country over her disappearance.
Yet, according to Ding Li, a senior executive of Global D-Sports, Shuai has been rejecting calls since her contact information was accidentally leaked and multiple media agencies were trying to reach her.
The night before the Sunday appearance, Ding said Shuai went to a restaurant in downtown Beijing which he also visited. A video of the outing was also shared.
Steve Simon, WTA Chairman and CEO, had said he tried to contact the sports star but failed to find any legitimate source that could confirm her safety. He had been critical of the evidence provided by Chinese media.
“While it is positive to see her, it remains unclear if she is free and able to make decisions and take actions on her own, without coercion or external interference,” Simon said of the restaurant video.
Simon in an interview with CNN stressed that unless they can directly communicate with Shuai, they will not be able to feel “comfortable.”
The White House and the UN have required “independent and verifiable proof” that Shuai is safe.
To “dispel” the worldwide condemnation and the possibility of losing a lucrative business like tennis tournaments, the CCP is using its propaganda means to show that Peng is alive, well, and happy, but for the Western world the tennis player’s well-being remains in doubt.