Four pictures and several questions: At a time when increasing international pressure on China to get information about the fate of the Chinese player, smiling Peng Shuai appeared on social media.
Peng Shuai, 35, former world number. 1 The duo, who is also a star in his country, has not come out publicly since he was accused of forcibly having sex with a 40-year-old, powerful former Communist Party official who revealed his extramarital affair.
The news, which was briefly released in early November on the player’s official Weibo account before being censored on the Chinese Internet, specifies at least one mandatory gender.
The fate of Peng Shuai is subject to many questions.
Four pictures of the tennis champion were released late on Friday via the Twitter account shen_shiwei, nicknamed the “Media Associated with the Chinese Government” by the social network.
A photo shows a player laughing with a cat in his house. In the background, soft toys, a trophy, a Chinese flag and recognitions are visible.
Another shot shows Peng Shuai taking a selfie with the kids animated film Kung Fu Panda. In the background appears a frame with a picture of Winnie the Pooh.
The Twitter account in question says in English that these photos are a “good weekend” greeting from the player personally to his contacts on a social network.
A screenshot of Peng Shuai’s personal WeChat account is shown. WeChat is the most popular social network in China.
The words “today” appear in Mandarin following photos of the player’s account entitled “Peng Shuai 2”.
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AFP could not verify that the WeChat account in question is Peng Shuai Yinta and that the photos were privately posted by the player.
Requests for an explanation of the Twitter account that took these photos publicly were not immediately responded to.
Twitter is a blocked social network in China and can only be accessed by those with bypass software such as VPN.
In recent years, however, many Chinese diplomats and the official media have at times stubbornly created accounts to defend China’s point of view.
Like Hu Jin, the influential editor-in-chief of the Global Times, the newspaper has a strong nationalist tone.
“I have confirmed from my own sources that these photos are actually current scenes of Peng Shuai,” Mr. Hu wrote in English on Twitter on Saturday.
“In recent days, she has stayed home with complete freedom and does not want to be disturbed,” he says, adding that Peng Shuai “will soon appear in public.”
“I firmly believe that misconceptions (around the fate of feng shui) will be refuted,” he said. Hoo wrote on Friday that he was in a certain vicinity of power.
However, he did not mention its Chinese equivalent case in Weibo.
Several countries, including the United States and France, expressed “concern” over the Chinese player’s fate on Friday.
And as the hashtag #WhereisPengShuai (#WhereestPengShuai) is spreading wildly on social media, the UN has asked for proof that he is doing well.
In an interview with CNN on Thursday, WTA boss Steve Simon, who runs the women’s professional tennis circuit, threatened to withdraw women’s tennis from China if the country did not clarify the matter.
Two weeks after the Peng Shuai blast allegations, Chinese state television CGTN on Wednesday released a screen shot of an email attributed to Peng Shuai.
The English language channel reported that the Chinese player had personally sent himself to the WTA administration.
On CNN, Mr. Simon expressed his doubts about the authenticity of the news, in which he declared his allegations against champion Zhang Gauli “false”.
“I do not believe it’s true,” Simon said, calling the email a “platform.”
“If she was forced to write, we would not know if anyone wrote for her […] But we will not give an assurance until we talk to him in person, ”the WTA official said.
The Peng Shuai case has been censored in China and the original social media post has not been independently approved.
Former Deputy Prime Minister Zhang Koli, who was one of China’s seven most powerful politicians from 2013 to 2018, has never publicly reacted to the allegations.