Brussels, Nov 30 The European Union (EU) wants China to release “verifiable proof” that a three-time Olympian and former top-ranked doubles player Peng Shuai is safe. The EU also urged China to conduct a thorough and transparent investigation into her sexual assault allegations.

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

“Her recent public reappearance does not ease concerns about her safety and freedom,” an EU spokesperson said. “The EU joins growing international demands, including by sports professionals, for assurances that she is free and not under threat,” the EU said in a statement.

“In this spirit, the EU requests the Chinese government to provide verifiable proof of Peng Shuai’s safety, well-being, and whereabouts. The EU urges the Chinese authorities to conduct a full, fair and transparent investigation into her allegations of sexual assault,” the EU said in a statement.

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

Peng, one of China’s biggest sporting stars, has not been publicly heard from since a Weibo post on November 2, in which she alleged that the former vice-premier Zhang Gaoli coerced her into sex and that they had an intermittent affair, The Guardian report had said.

The post was taken down by China’s censors but still went viral. Subsequent posts and reactions, even keywords such as “tennis”, also appeared to be blocked, and numerous references to Peng were scrubbed from China’s internet.

Earlier, women’s Tennis Association (WTA) chairman and CEO Steve Simon raised questions about Peng’s well-being. However, Chinese media released a video that appear to show Peng Shuai at a restaurant in Beijing, but Steve Simon termed it “insufficient” to judge whether the tennis player was safe and in good health.

WTA had sought a “full, fair, and transparent investigation” into sexual assault allegations against a former Chinese leader.

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