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France Warns China As Peng Shuai Reappears, Says 'let Her Speak, Or Face Consequences'

Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said “I’m expecting only one thing: that she [tennis star Peng Shuai] speaks,” adding that China must clear up situation.

France

IMAGE: AP


France on Sunday warned the Chinese authorities to “let tennis star Peng Shuai speak publicly to clarify what’s happening” or face the diplomatic consequences. Speaking with France’s LCI television, Paris' Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said “I’m expecting only one thing: that she [tennis star Peng Shuai] speaks,” adding that if China does not clear up the situation there will be an action as three-time Olympian Peng’s whereabout and her disappearance has now become an international issue. Either the Chinese government themselves must provide an explanation about the recent events concerning the female player or let her speak, French Foreign Minister Drian stated in an assertive tone. 


Meanwhile on Sunday, Peng Shuai said she was safe and well in a video call, the International Olympic Committee has said, amid growing international demands for assurances that she is free and not under threat. Also, official photographs published by the tournament organized by China Open showed Peng Shuai signing tennis balls at the Fila Kids Junior Tennis Challenger Finals, attired in a dark blue jacket and white trousers. Photos of Peng at the Fila tournament were also posted on Twitter by Ding Li, a long-time friend of Peng, and a senior executive of Global D-Sports that manages the athletes via the information app Tianyancha. The latter wrote on Twitter that the Chinese tennis star's phone was finally switched on.

WTA chairman and CEO Steve Simon had told Time magazine last week that the association had tried several means to get in touch with Peng but couldn't. 

The tennis player's photos and the videos suddenly started to appear online after mounting global pressure on Xi Jinping's government, although the authenticity of the images, Peng's new WeChat account, and her prolonged 'mute' over the issue has come under global scrutiny. Many on Twitter, concerned about the Chinese player's safety argued that peng was subjected to threats and pressure by the Chinese government that instated online censorship on her account just minutes after she posted the controversial letter accusing the former Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli of forcing her into having sex. 

Chinese tennis star maintains 'silence' over sexual assault allegations against Beijing's ex-Vice Premier

Chinese state government's mouthpiece Global Times 'acquired' video clips of Peng visiting a popular restaurant in downtown Beijing for a meal, where Ding was also present. The paper claimed that the accomplished tennis star's video was shot as early as on Saturday, adding that her outing was confirmed by Sichuan restaurant's manager Zhou Hongmei, where Peng was present with seven other people. 

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach, earlier yesterday, also held a 30-minute video phone call with Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai, and later announced that the Chinese tennis star is "safe and well." Although the tennis star remained mute about the #MeToo allegations she made against the former Chinese politician and insisted that she "would like to have her privacy respected at this time”. 

China’s former doubles world No. 1 has not spoken or made public comments since her on Nov. 2 sexual assault allegation made against the former Chinese vice premier Zhang Gaoli from President Xi Jinping’s powerful Chinese Communist Party. Since then, neither 75-year-old Zhang that formerly served Politburo Standing Committee nor the Chinese government or President Jinping made any comments on the controversy. In what is being suspected as the political crackdown against the tennis star by the Chinese Communist Party, her post was taken down abruptly, and immediate online censorship was instated on her account. 

France committed to promoting 'freedom of speech'

Earlier France’s Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs joined the US and demanded proof of Peng’s wellbeing raising concerns about her sudden disappearance and reports that she hasn’t been seen in weeks. Paris has been "greatly concerned by the lack of information on the whereabouts of tennis player Peng Shuai, which is worrying the international community and the sports community,” France’s Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs said in a statement. “We call on the Chinese authorities to implement their commitments to the fight against violence against women, specifically under the national domestic violence law that came into effect in 201,” the French Foreign Ministry stated.

“France is committed to promoting the freedom of speech, gender equality, and the fight against sexual and sexist violence worldwide,” the French Foreign Ministry asserted. 

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