Chinese female tennis star Peng Shuai has been seen — but still not heard from.
Ms. Peng, who abruptly disappeared after she posted a Nov. 2 account of sexual abuse by a former member of the communist regime’s top governing body, was shown in a video released this weekend at a junior tennis tournament in Beijing.
Screenshots from the video, released by the organizers of the sponsoring China Open, show a smiling Ms. Peng autographing oversized tennis balls for a group of youngsters at the opening ceremony of Fila Kids Junior Tennis Challenger Final on Sunday.
If legitimate, the video would be the first moving images shown of the former No. 1 women’s doubles player since the day she said on Chinese social media that former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli, a onetime member of China’s Politburo, had forced her into an extramarital affair and later had an on-off consensual relationship with her.
Accusations of personal scandal relating to top members of the Chinese Communist Party are exceedingly rare, and both Ms. Peng and her social media posts were quickly removed from public view. All discussion of the case on Chinese social media sites has been heavily censored by the government since then.
The Biden administration and other Western governments have expressed concern for her fate, and the Women’s Tennis Association has threatened to cancel multiple top-level events in China if Ms. Peng‘s fate is not cleared up. The controversy has also surfaced as China prepares to host the Winter Olympic Games in February in Beijing.
Sunday’s video — and other social media posts by the local Chinese tennis officials apparently showing Ms. Peng dining out with friends Saturday night in Beijing — are a positive sign, but not enough to quell doubts about Ms. Peng‘s treatment, International Tennis Federation President Dave Haggerty told the Reuters news agency in an email Sunday.
“Our primary concern is Peng Shuai‘s safety and her well-being,” Mr. Haggerty wrote. “The videos of her this weekend appear to be a positive step, but we will continue to seek direct engagement and confirmation from Peng Shuai herself that she is safe and well.”