The White House and the United Nations are requesting "proof" of the whereabouts of a missing Chinese tennis player.
As the tennis world continues to demand answers regarding the whereabouts of missing Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai, the United Nations and the White House are putting pressure on China to provide information on the 35-year-old women's doubles player.
U.N. Human Rights spokesperson Liz Throssell demanded verification of Peng's "whereabouts and well-being" on Friday.
“What we would say is that it would be important to have proof of her whereabouts and wellbeing, and we would urge that there be an investigation with full transparency into her allegations of sexual assault,” Throssell said.
“According to available information, the former world doubles No. 1 hasn’t been heard from publicly since she alleged on social media that she was sexually assaulted. We would stress that it is important to know where she is and know her state, know about her wellbeing.”
Peng hasn't been seen in public since accusing former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli of sexually assaulting her three years ago on November 2. Peng's Weibo account — a Chinese social media network — was disabled after her message was erased about 30 minutes after it was published.
CGTN, a Chinese state-affiliated media firm, released a statement claiming to Peng on Wednesday, in which Peng disputes her claim that Zhang sexually attacked her.
“Hello everyone this is Peng Shuai. Regarding the recent news released on the official website of the WTA, the content has not been confirmed or verified by myself and it was released without my consent,” the statement read in part. “The news in that release, including the allegation of sexual assault, is not true. I’m not missing, nor am I unsafe. I’ve just been resting at home and everything is fine. Thank you again for caring about me.”
In her Friday briefing, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki stated that the Biden administration is "deeply concerned" about Peng's abduction.
“We join in the calls for PRC authorities to provide independent and verifiable proof of her whereabouts and that she is safe,” Psaki told reporters. “We know the PRC has zero-tolerance for criticism and a record of silencing those that speak out and we continue to condemn those practices,” Psaki continued.
Following the reported statement by Peng, WTA Chairman and CEO Steve Simon issued a statement on Wednesday calling the situation "concerning."
“The statement released today by Chinese state media concerning Peng Shuai only raises my concerns as to her safety and whereabouts,” the statement read.
“I have a hard time believing that Peng Shuai actually wrote the email we received or believes what is being attributed to her. Peng Shuai displayed incredible courage in describing an allegation of sexual assault against a former top official in the Chinese government.”
On Friday, Zhao Lijian, a spokesperson for China's Foreign Ministry, claimed he was “not aware of the situation”.