EU wants ‘verifiable proof’ that Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai is safe

Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai waving
Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai waves after losing in the first round at the Australian Open in 2019.
(Mark Schiefelbein / Associated Press)

The European Union said Tuesday that it wants China to release “verifiable proof” that tennis player Peng Shuai is safe and to conduct a thorough and transparent investigation into her sexual assault allegations.

Peng, a three-time Olympian and former top-ranked doubles player, dropped out of public view after accusing a former vice premier of sexual assault.

Peng has had only a few direct contacts with officials outside China since she disappeared from public view earlier this month. She told Olympic officials in a Nov. 21 video call from Beijing that she was safe and well.


Her recent public reappearance does not ease concerns about her safety and freedom,” an EU spokesperson said.

Women’s tennis takes a stand for Peng Shuai, a Chinese player who accused a Communist Party leader of sexual abuse and then vanished from public view.

Peng made the sexual assault allegation online against a former member of the Communist Party’s ruling Standing Committee, Zhang Gaoli. The tennis player’s social media post was removed within minutes, and she stopped appearing in public.

“The EU joins growing international demands, including by sport professionals, for assurances that she is free and not under threat,” the EU said in a statement. “In this spirit, the EU requests the Chinese government to provide verifiable proof of Peng Shuai’s safety, well-being and whereabouts. The EU urges the Chinese authorities to conduct a full, fair and transparent investigation into her allegations of sexual assault.”

Peng adds to a growing number of Chinese businesspeople, activists and ordinary people who have disappeared from public view in recent years after criticizing Communist Party figures or being caught up in anti-corruption drives or crackdowns on pro-democracy and labor rights campaigns.

“The EU strongly opposes the use of the practice of enforced disappearance and arbitrary detention ... and calls upon China to comply with its human rights obligations under national and international law,” the EU said.