World Tennis Association says the new videos and pictures are ‘insufficient’ and do not address its concerns about her safety.
The editor of a Chinese Communist Party newspaper has released a video that he says shows missing tennis star Peng Shuai watching a match in Beijing.
Hu Xijin of the Global Times posted the video online on Sunday as international pressure mounted for information about Peng’s whereabouts after she accused a senior Chinese leader of sexual assault.
The 37-second video shows Peng standing with five other people at what he said was the opening ceremony for the final match of a youth championship in Beijing.
China Open, which organised the tournament, also posted pictures of Peng at the event on its official WeChat page.
Peng Shuai showed up at the opening ceremony of a teenager tennis match final in Beijing on Sunday morning. Global Times photo reporter Cui Meng captured her at scene. pic.twitter.com/7wlBcTMgGy
— Hu Xijin 胡锡进 (@HuXijin_GT) November 21, 2021
The former doubles world number one had not been seen or heard from publicly since she said on Chinese social media on November 2 that former vice-premier Zhang Gaoli had coerced her into sex, and they later had an on-off consensual relationship.
Neither Zhang nor the Chinese government has commented on her allegation. Peng’s social media post was quickly deleted and the topic has been blocked from discussion on China’s heavily censored internet.
World tennis bodies have expressed concern, with the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) threatening to pull tournaments out of China. The United States and the United Kingdom have called for evidence of Peng’s whereabouts and safety.
The photographs and video footage of Peng that emerged on Sunday remain “insufficient” and do not address the WTA’s concerns, a spokesperson for the group told the Reuters news agency by email.
Peng adds to a growing number of Chinese businesspeople, activists and citizens who have disappeared in recent years after criticising party figures or in crackdowns on corruption or pro-democracy and labour rights campaigns.
Some re-emerge weeks or months later without explanation, suggesting they are warned not to disclose they were detained or the reason.
Hu, whose newspaper is known for its nationalistic tone and who uses Twitter to criticise foreign governments, wrote on Saturday that Peng “stayed in her own home freely” and would “show up in public and participate in some activities soon”.
He then posted two video clips that he said showed Peng having dinner with her coach and friends in a restaurant.
I acquired two video clips, which show Peng Shuai was having dinner with her coach and friends in a restaurant. The video content clearly shows they are shot on Saturday Beijing time. pic.twitter.com/HxuwB5TfBk
— Hu Xijin 胡锡进 (@HuXijin_GT) November 20, 2021
Steve Simon, the WTA’s chairman and CEO, expressed concern for Peng’s safety after Hu posted the videos that appeared to show her in a restaurant.
“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. This video alone is insufficient,” Simon said.” Our relationship with China is at a crossroads.”
The International Olympic Committee has remained quiet about the status of Peng, who competed in three Olympics, helping to contribute to the IOC’s multimillion-dollar revenue from broadcasting and sponsorships.
Emma Terho, the newly elected head of the IOC’s Athletes’ Commission that is charged with representing the interests of Olympic athletes, said in a statement Saturday “we support the quiet diplomacy” approach favoured by the IOC.
Last week, the foreign arm of state TV issued a statement in English attributed to Peng that retracted her accusation against Zhang. The WTA’s Simon questioned its legitimacy, while others said it only increased their concern about her safety.