U.S. Is ‘Deeply Concerned’ About Missing Chinese Tennis Star
(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. is “deeply concerned” about reports that Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai has gone missing after she alleged that a top former Chinese Communist Party official pressured her to have sex.
“We join in the calls for PRC authorities to provide independent and verifiable proof of her whereabouts and that she is safe,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Friday, using an acronym for China’s government. “We know the PRC has zero tolerance for criticism and a record of silencing those that speak out and we continue to condemn those practices.”
Peng, a 35-year old former women’s doubles No. 1 player, hasn’t been seen since she posted a 1,500-word essay on Chinese social-media service Weibo detailing her turbulent relationship with Zhang Gaoli, the country’s 75-year-old former vice premier, who was believed to be living in the quiet obscurity reserved for elite retirees. The essay was later erased and her social media account has gone quiet.
Peng’s case has drawn international scrutiny, including by the Womens Tennis Association and top athletes including Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic. It comes at a complicated time for Chinese President Xi Jinping, who is due to host the Winter Olympics in a few weeks and is aiming to secure a third term as Communist Party chief next year.
President Joe Biden on Thursday signaled that the U.S. is considering a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Games, a largely symbolic move which would still allow American athletes to participate.
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