European Union asks China for "verifiable proof" that tennis player Peng Shuai is sure

BRUSSELS – The European Union (EU) said Tuesday that it wants the Chinese government to provide “verifiable evidence” about the safety of tennis player Peng Shuai, and to conduct a rigorous and transparent investigation into her allegations of sexual abuse.

Peng, a three-time Olympian and a former world No. 1 player in doubles, disappeared from the public eye after reporting a former senior Communist Party official of sexual abuse.

Peng has had few direct contacts with officials outside of China since he disappeared from the public eye earlier this month. She told Olympic officials in a Nov. 21 video call from Beijing that she was safe and well.

“His recent public reappearance does not alleviate concerns about his safety and freedom,” said an EU spokeswoman.

Peng made the allegation of sexual abuse online against a former member of the Politburo Standing Committee of the ruling Communist Party, Zhang Gaoli. The tennis player’s post was deleted within minutes, and she stopped appearing in public.

“The EU joins a growing number of international petitions, including by professional athletes, for assurances that she is free and not under threat,” the EU said in a statement. “In this spirit, the EU calls on the Chinese government to provide verifiable evidence of safety, well-being and whereabouts. The EU urges the Chinese authorities to conduct a full, fair and transparent investigation

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

“The EU firmly opposes the use of the practice of enforced disappearance and arbitrary detention … and calls on China to fulfill its obligation regarding human rights under national and international law,” the EU said.