Peng Shuai has finally appeared in public. Why is the world not convinced she’s really safe?

Because Friday night, a stable stream of pictures and videos claiming to reveal a smiling Peng setting about her life in Beijing have actually appeared on Twitter — all published by people working for Chinese government-controlled media and the state sport system, on a platform obstructed in China.
The evident propaganda push was followed Sunday by a video call in between Peng and International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach, throughout which the three-time Olympian insisted she is “safe and well, living at her home in Beijing” and “would like to have her privacy respected,” according to a declaration from the IOC.
The flurry of “proof of life” videos came in the middle of a firestorm of international issue for Peng, who vanished from the general public eye for more than 2 weeks after requiring to social networks to implicate previous Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli of persuading her into sex at his house — an explosive and politically delicate accusation that set off blanket censorship in China.

While Peng’s public reappearances might ease a few of the worst worries about her instant security and wellness, they have actually stopped working to stop more comprehensive issues about her liberties and growing require a complete examination into her sexual attack accusations.

“It was good to see Peng Shuai in recent videos, but they don’t alleviate or address the WTA’s concern about her well-being and ability to communicate without censorship or coercion,” a representative for the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) informed CNN in a declaration, following Peng’s call with the IOC.

Human rights supporters who have long followed Beijing’s silencing projects are likewise unsure.

“What we have here is essentially a state-controlled narrative: only the government and its affiliated media are generating and distributing the content about Peng’s story,” stated Maya Wang, senior China scientist at Person Rights Watch (HRW).

“While it is possible that Peng is well, the history of the Chinese government disappearing people and then making videos of them to prove that they are unharmed when it is, in fact, the opposite, should make us worried about Peng’s safety,” she included.

The video seem particularly — yet crudely — crafted to reveal that Peng is “free” and living a “normal” life.

In video launched on Saturday, Peng was seen out to supper with a number of individuals specify media reporters have actually referred to as “her coach and friends.” The clips made duplicated, intentional referrals to the dates, while Peng kept nodding to the guy speaking beside her, not stating anything.

None of the videos made the vaguest reference of Peng’s sexual attack accusations versus Zhang. Rather, they concentrated on her smiles and evident good-spirits — which specify media propagandists aspired to highlight.

WTA chief says new video of Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai 'insufficient' to assure her safety
“Can any girl fake such sunny smile under pressure?” asked Hu Xijin, the editor-in-chief of state-run tabloid the Global Times, in a tweet Sunday, accompanying a clip of a smiley Peng signing larged-sized tennis balls for kids at a junior tennis match in Beijing.

“Those who suspect Peng Shuai is under duress, how dark they must be inside. There must be many, many forced political performances in their countries,” Hu composed on Twitter.

The Worldwide Times, like other government-controlled media outlets in China, has actually made no referral to Peng’s evident disappearance, nor her accusations versus Zhang. Hu has actually likewise bewared on Twitter not to point out the reason Peng remains in the spotlight, describing it just obliquely as “the thing people talked about.”

Chinese authorities have actually not acknowledged Peng’s accusations versus Zhang, and there is no sign an examination is underway. It stays uncertain if Peng has actually reported her accusations to the cops.

Speaking at a press conference Monday, Chinese Foreign Ministry representative Zhao Lijian repeated that Peng’s allegation is not a diplomatic concern and decreased to comment even more.

Zhang has actually kept a low profile and faded from public life given that his retirement in 2018, and there is no public details associating with his present location.

Uncertainty regarding Peng’s wellness particularly runs high amongst Chinese activists who have actually observed from a close quarters how the federal government has actually silenced and pushed their peers.

“The reality is, they have huge control over Peng Shuai — to the extent that it’s enough to make her cooperate and become an actor,” declared Lv Pin, a popular Chinese feminist now based in New york city.

“This has happened in plenty of cases in the past. Many ‘criminals’ who were forced to confess on television had to make their performances look real,” she stated, describing a series of required confessions aired on state tv, such as from Chinese human rights attorneys and the Hong Kong booksellers.
Women's tennis is challenging the Chinese government -- and it shows no sign of backing down

Chinese authorities have actually up until now chosen not to position Peng on state tv, maybe mindful that her existence — even just on its English-language platforms — would run counter to continuous efforts to censor all conversations around her initial accusations, and therefore create more concerns within China than responses.

Rather, Peng appeared in a 30-minute video call with IOC authorities, accompanied by — and under the close watch of — a Chinese sports authorities who previously functioned as the Communist Celebration secretary of the Tennis Administration Center of the General Administration of Sport of China.

The interview has actually not been reported by Chinese state media. However on its site, the IOC published a declaration and an image of the call. It didn’t launch the complete video, nor discuss the scenarios surrounding the virtual conference, consisting of how it was organized.

And it appears that IOC authorities have actually left the conference — a minimum of openly — concluding that Peng is okay.

“I was relieved to see that Peng Shuai was doing fine, which was our main concern,” stated Chair of the IOC Athletes’ Commission Emma Terho, who signed up with the video call along with Li Lingwei, the Chinese sports authorities.

By drawing to fast conclusions about Peng’s present state and preventing any reference of her sexual attack accusations that sparked the entire debate, experts state the IOC is putting its own reliability on the line — and possibly dangers ending up being complicit in Beijing’s propaganda push.

“The IOC call hardly alleviates our concerns for Peng’s well-being or safety,” stated Wang from the HRW.

“In fact, it begs the question of why the IOC appears to be participating in what is essentially a state-controlled narrative, as only the government and its affiliated media have been allowed to tell Peng’s story.”

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.