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EU wants ‘verifiable proof’ Chinese tennis player is safe

BRUSSELS (AP) – The European Union said on Tuesday it wanted China to release “verifiable evidence” that tennis player Peng Shuai is safe and to conduct a full and transparent investigation into her allegations of sexual assault.

Peng, a three-time Olympian and former leading doubles player, has disappeared from the public eye after accusing a former Communist Party official of sexual assault.

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

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – JANUARY 23: Shuai Peng and Shuai Zhang of China during their women’s doubles first round match against Veronika Kudermetova of Russia and Alison Riske of the United States on day four of Australian Open 2020 at Melbourne Park on January 23, 2020 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Clive Brunskill / Getty Images)

“His recent public reappearance does not allay concerns about his security and freedom,” said an EU spokesperson.

Peng made the online sexual assault allegation against former ruling Communist Party Standing Committee member Zhang Gaoli. The tennis player’s post was deleted within minutes and she ceased to appear in public.

Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli delivers a speech at the Philippines - China Trade and Investment Fourm conference at the People's Grand Palace in October ...

BEIJING, CHINA – OCTOBER 20: Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli delivers a speech during the Philippines-China Trade and Investment Forum at the Great Hall of the People on October 20, 2016 in Beijing, China. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is paying a four-day state visit to China, his first since taking office in late June, with the aim of improving bilateral relations. (Photo by Wu Hong-Pool / Getty Images)

“The EU joins growing international demands, including from sports professionals, for assurance that it is free and not threatened,” the EU said in a statement. “With this in mind, the EU calls on the Chinese government to provide verifiable proof of the safety, well-being and whereabouts of Peng Shuai. The EU urges the Chinese authorities to conduct a full, fair and transparent investigation into his allegations of sexual assault.

Peng joins a growing number of Chinese businessmen, activists and ordinary people who have disappeared from public view in recent years after criticizing party figures or as part of the crackdown on the corruption or campaigns for democracy and labor rights.

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

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