New video of missing tennis star Peng Shuai has surfaced ...

Yesterday a video of a youth tennis tournament in China appeared on Twitter in which the long-lost Peng Shuai (35) signed tennis balls, smiling broadly. Just before that, photos had surfaced of the tennis star in her house. The message was clear: there is nothing wrong with Peng.

That was also said in so many words by Hu Xijin, the editor-in-chief of the Chinese government-controlled Global Times. Not only did he post several videos on Twitter in which Peng makes an appearance at a youth tournament and visits a restaurant, including with her coach. He also literally writes that everything is fine with her and that she stepped out of the spotlight of her own free will. Another journalist tweeted photos of a smiling Peng among her collection of teddy bears, taken via the Chinese chat app WeChat.

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It is hard for non-Chinese to believe that Peng Shuai is free and happy at home. Just the time when photos and videos of her suddenly appear, arouses suspicion. Just hours before those images were released, Steve Simon, head of the global women’s tennis association WTA, had threatened his organization to withdraw from China. That would mean that more than ten tournaments would disappear from the international calendar, which means a serious financial loss for the WTA itself. “But the safety of our players is worth much more,” said Simon.

More and more countries, including the United States and Great Britain, demanded proof that Peng was safe. The United Nations wants an investigation into the voluntary or involuntary disappearance of the tennis star.

Clijsters and Djokovic

After seeing “proof” that Peng is safe and sound, the WTA said it was not convinced, partly because the images do not show how she is doing or under what circumstances the videos and photos were taken. Moreover, those images have only been distributed via Twitter, a medium that is not allowed to be used in China.

The fuss over Peng Shuai started at the beginning of this month. On the night of November 2, she posted a long message on the Chinese social media channel Weibo. She alleged that she had been sexually assaulted by former Deputy Prime Minister Zhang Gaoli before having an affair with him. Since then, she completely disappeared from the radar.

The international tennis world, including Serena Williams, Kim Clijsters and Novak Djokovic, expressed their deep concern after her disappearance. China itself has always denied having put anything in the way of Peng and is keeping it dry itself that it has chosen to shun the limelight for a while. In China, according to various correspondents of Western media, the Peng case is not mentioned at all. Her name is also still invisible on social media platform Weibo.

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