China, missing tennis player Peng Shuai appears in photos on social media. Media: “Soon in public”

Four photos, the authenticity of which has not been independently verified, showing a smiling Peng Shuai, have appeared on social networks as international pressure on China increases for information on the fate of the Chinese tennis player. The 35-year-old, the world’s # 1 former doubles player and star of her country, hasn’t made public appearances since she revealed an extramarital affair with former Deputy Prime Minister Zhang Gaoli, a powerful 40-year-old former Communist Party official in early November. older than her, and accused him of sexual assault.

The images of Peng Shuai

The photos of the tennis champion were posted last night by the Twitter account @shen_shiwei, tagged by the social network as “media affiliated with the Chinese state”. One photo shows the smiling female player with a cat in her arms in what appears to be her home. Plush toys, a trophy, a Chinese flag and accreditations are visible in the background. Another snapshot shows a selfie of Peng Shuai with a Kung Fu Panda figurine, an animated film for children. A frame with a picture of Winnie the Pooh appears in the background. The Twitter account in question says in English that these photos were privately posted by the player on a social network to wish her contacts a “happy weekend”. A screenshot like that of Peng Shuai’s personal WeChat account is shown. The AFP reports that “it was unable to verify its authenticity and requests for an explanation from the Twitter account that posted the photos were immediately unanswered.” Twitter is a social network blocked in China and only people with VPN-like bypass software can access it.

Global Times Editor: Soon Peng in public

Hu Xijin, editor of the Global Times, wrote on Twitter that the latest social media photos of the Chinese tennis star “are indeed Peng’s current state.” For the past few days, she has been staying at her home freely and did not want to be disturbed. . He will present himself in public and will soon participate in some activities, “added Hu, whose claims are hardly verifiable, on the case that sparked a worldwide mobilization.

The international mobilization

Several countries including the United States have expressed “concern” and the United Nations have asked for proof that the player is okay, while the hashtag #WhereisPengShuai (#WhereestPengShuai) has spread quickly through social networks. The WTA, the association that manages the global professional women’s tennis circuit, has threatened to leave China without clarification of the athlete’s fate. The White House said it was “very concerned” about Peng’s fate. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has launched an appeal to China on the case: “It is important to know where he is and that he is well. We urge a transparent investigation into the allegations of sexual abuse”, said spokeswoman Liz Throssell during a Press conference.