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Washington, D.C. – House Foreign Affairs Committee Lead Republican Michael McCaul (R-TX) and Congressman Mike Waltz (R-FL) sent a letter to Ambassador Qin Gang demanding proof of the safety and wellbeing of Peng Shuai, a People’s Republic of China citizen and professional tennis player, after her disappearance following sexual assault allegations against a Chinse Communist Party (CCP) official. The letter demands an investigation into Peng’s allegations and condemns the CCP for its censorship of human rights abuses.  

Peng has not been seen for two weeks since coming forward with allegations of sexual assault against former Vice Premier of the People’s Republic of China, Zhang Gaoli.

“The Chinese Communist Party has disappeared Peng Shuai, and is issuing false statements in her name because they know her story is a threat to their regime,” said Rep. McCaul. “It’s another reminder that their insecurity and cruelty knows no bounds. Peng should be freed and spared from further abuse by the CCP.”

“The Chinese Communist Party has a long history of silencing its people, oppressing athletes, and coercing sports organizations at home and abroad,” said Rep. Waltz. “I, along with Rep. McCaul, am deeply concerned about the wellbeing of Peng Shuai and the weaponization of censorship we continue to see from the CCP. That’s why we are demanding a transparent investigation into Peng’s claims, proof of her whereabouts, and her immediate release.”

The full text of the letter can be found here and below. 

Dear Ambassador Qin Gang,

We write with great concern regarding the safety and wellbeing of PRC citizen and professional tennis player, Peng Shuai. As you are undoubtedly aware, Peng has not been seen in the two weeks since her sexual assault allegations against former Vice Premier of the People’s Republic of China, Zhang Gaoli.

On November 2, 2021, Peng posted from her social media account a detailed allegation of sexual misconduct against Zhang. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) immediately removed this post and censored any mention of the allegations and Peng’s post from social media platforms. Since then, the CCP has censored broadcast reporting of Peng’s allegation and reporting on her disappearance. Censorship of CCP human rights abuses is unfortunately a common occurrence.

The international community’s concerns about Peng’s safety are growing. Peng has disappeared from the public and has not issued an attributable statement since November 2nd. On November 17th, PRC state media published a mysterious statement which they purported to be an email from Peng repudiating her claims and attempting to alleviate concerns about her safety. The statement has been widely reported as a probable fabrication. We share the skepticism regarding Peng’s freedom and whereabouts.

The CCP has a long history of oppressing athletes and coercing sports organizations. The abuse and detention of American basketball player Jeff Harper is fresh in the world’s mind, as are the extensive reports of abuse at NBA training facilities in the PRC. Within the United States Congress, this behavior underscores concerns of athlete safety at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics and further discredits the PRC as an appropriate host of the Games.

The CCP has also repeatedly censored, detained, and punished women’s rights advocates, individuals involved with the #metoo movement, and those who come forward with sexual assault claims. We want to draw your attention to a sentence in Peng’s original post: “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.” It is the responsibility of a state to protect those who fight such injustice, not to abuse them further.

We condemn the CCP’s weaponization of censorship and demand a full and transparent investigation into Peng’s claims. We demand proof of Peng’s safety and whereabouts. Finally, if in fact Peng is being held in detention or confinement by PRC authorities, we demand her immediate release.

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