Representative Jim Banks (R., Ind.) has called on the Biden administration to apply diplomatic pressure on China in response to the disappearance of Peng Shuai, a top professional tennis player who accused former China vice premier Zhang Gaoli of sexual assault.
“I would like to urge you to raise…the issue of Peng Shuai’s safety and whereabouts and demand Chinese authorities to lift censorship and re-post Shuai’s social media message that has been taken down,” Banks wrote in a letter to President Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and climate envoy John Kerry.
“I would like to further ask you to suspend any high-level dialogues with China until China respond[s] satisfactorily to our inquiries about Peng Shuai’s safety,” Banks added. “I also urge you to warn the Chinese authorities that China’s silencing and abusing Peng Shuai, if not handled properly, will have a negative impact on China hosting the Winter Olympics of 2022, and will only exacerbate the movement to boycott the games.”
Shuai wrote a post on Weibo on November 2 alleging that Zhang coerced her into having sex roughly three years ago, after the two engaged in an on-off consensual relationship for ten years.
“Why did you have to come back to me, took me to your home to force me to have sex with you?” Shuai wrote. “I couldn’t describe how disgusted I was, and how many times I asked myself am I still a human? I feel like a walking corpse.”
The post was deleted 30 minutes later, after going viral on social media. Shuai has not been seen since the post, leading the Women’s Tennis Association to attempt to locate her.
WTA CEO Steve Simon said Chinese Tennis Association sources have told him Peng is safe, in comments to Time.
“I will remain worried until I am able to speak with her, or she speaks with somebody in our organization, whomever she’s comfortable with,” said Simon.
The Biden administration is expected to announce a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing winter olympics in February in response to Beijing’s human rights abuses, the Washington Post reported Tuesday.