Nov 19, 2021 - Sports

Cruz backs WTA's willingness to pull out of China over Peng Shuai

Photo of Ted Cruz's face up close as he is speaking
Sen. Ted Cruz,(R-Texas) at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Sen. Ted Cruz (R) supports the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) for its "unapologetic criticism" of the Chinese government and willingness to pull out of China over the missing tennis player Peng Shuai, the Texas lawmaker wrote in a letter this week.

Why it matters: Peng, a two-time Grand Slam doubles champion, has not been seen in public since she accused China's former vice premier of sexual assault earlier this month. Her disappearance has led to growing international concern.

State of play: WTA chair Steve Simon has received an email purportedly from Peng in which she claims she is resting at home, but told CNN he doubted the email's validity.

What he's saying: "Peng Shuai has long been one of the most impressive athletes and tennis stars in the world, and an inspiration for young women competing across the globe," Cruz wrote in a letter to Simon that was shared with Axios. She showed "remarkable, breathtaking bravery" in making her allegations public.

  • "The PRC and CCP are sending a message to their population and to the world: criticism of the regime will not be tolerated, victims of abuse must remain silent, and the international community is expected to fall into line."
  • "Unfortunately, far too many industries and organizations have done exactly that in order to access Chinese markets," Cruz said. "In contrast, you and the WTA have taken the stance that the PRC and CCP’s crimes cannot and will not be tolerated."
  • "The unapologetic criticism of the kind you and the WTA are bringing to bear pose a salient — and perhaps the most salient — threat to their power. Again, I congratulate the resolve you and the WTA are showing, and stand ready to support you in any way that I can."

The big picture: White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday that the Biden administration is demanding "independent, verifiable proof" of Peng's whereabouts.

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