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A state-run Chinese outlet's videos of missing tennis player Peng Shuai have only led to more questions about her well-being.
After pressure against the Chinese government from the White House, the United Nations, the WTA and some of the biggest names in tennis over Peng's whereabouts, a Twitter account belonging to the editor-in-chief of China's Global Times posted two videos of the tennis star.
The first video purports to show Peng sitting with her coach and friends at a dinner on Saturday. The second video appears to show her walking into a restaurant. In what you might call a fortunate coincidence, the group mentions that it is Nov. 20 multiple times in the first minute-long video.
A third video was released hours later showing Peng introduced at what is said to be the opening ceremony of a youth tennis match final in Beijing on Sunday morning, The Fila Kids Junior Tennis Challenger Finals was organized by China Open, which shared photos showing Peng among guests and signing large tennis balls, Reuters reported.
A reporter from another Chinese outlet also published photos appearing to show Peng at home on Friday.
WTA head: Peng Shuai videos are 'insufficient'
Soon after the videos of Peng were posted on Twitter, the WTA released a statement from CEO Steve Simon that welcomed the videos, but noted that it remains unclear whether Peng is free and making decisions without coercion.
The full statement:
“I am glad to see the videos released by China state-run media that appear to show Peng Shuai at a restaurant in Beijing. 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. As I have stated from the beginning, I remain concerned about Peng Shuai’s health and safety and that the allegation of sexual assault is being censored and swept under the rug. I have been clear about what needs to happen and our relationship with China is at a crossroads.”
Where is Peng Shuai?
Peng's well-being has been in doubt since she accused retired Chinese vice premier Zhang Gaoli of pressuring her into having sex with him several times in a post on social media platform Weibo. The post was quickly wiped from the platform, while all mentions of the story. The word "tennis" was even blocked on Weibo.
Peng, a two-time Grand Slam doubles champion, had not been publicly seen or heard from until another Chinese-run outlet released an email it claimed to be from Peng, recanting her allegation and claiming to be resting at home.
Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai has sent an email to Steve Simon, the WTA Chairman & CEO, CGTN has learned. The email reads: pic.twitter.com/uLi6Zd2jDI
— CGTN (@CGTNOfficial) November 17, 2021
For obvious reasons, Simon was not convinced. He questioned the credibility of the supposed email from Peng and called for "independent and verifiable proof that she is safe." The videos from Global Times editor hardly met that standard.