It’s an email that prompts more questions than it answers. On Thursday morning, November 18, the Twitter account of Chinese state television CGTN published a message allegedly sent by former professional tennis player Peng Shuai to the president of the women’s tennis association, WTA. Since she accused of rape on November 2, former top Chinese leader Zhang Gaoli, the winner of the Roland Garros doubles tournament in 2014 has not given any sign of life and the case has been completely censored on the Chinese Web.
But from the tone to the source, through the typography, everything seems questionable in the document presented by the CGTN. “Hello everyone, it’s Peng Shuai”, begins the text, supposed to be intended for Steve Simon, the president of the WTA, who issued a statement worrying about the silence of the young woman, on November 14. “Regarding the information posted on the official WTA website, the content has not been verified or approved by me, and it has been posted without my consent. The information in this release, including the allegations of sexual abuse, is not true. I have not disappeared, and I am safe. “
Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai has sent an email to Steve Simon, the WTA Chairman & CEO, CGTN has learned. The emai… https://t.co/N1jGHx0MSc
But the text does not convince anyone. In addition to the tone at odds with the situation, the presence of a vertical line indicating the mark of the cursor in the middle of the text published by CGTN suggests that this is not an email actually sent. Above all, the source is suspicious to say the least: Chinese state television has often broadcast forced confessions from prisoners of conscience, human rights lawyers, Uighur intellectuals and foreign NGO members in China. The text has not been taken up in the Chinese media, where the case has been completely passed over in silence for two weeks.
“She showed incredible courage”
The WTA immediately responded by calling for an independent investigation. “The statement released today by Chinese state media regarding Peng Shuai only heightens my concerns for her safety and her whereabouts. Peng Shuai must be allowed to express himself freely, without coercion or intimidation of any kind ”, Steve Simon said in a statement released minutes after the state television tweet.
“I find it hard to believe that Peng Shuai actually wrote the email we received. She showed incredible courage in describing an allegation of sexual assault against a former senior Chinese government official. The WTA and the rest of the world need independent, verifiable proof that it is safe. I tried several times to reach her by numerous means of communication, to no avail. “
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