Former PGA Tour player Rosie DiManno, who is a fan of Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai, says the growing well-being of the athlete after she says she was held against her will in China and prevented from traveling home is a false optimism.
“Don’t buy the Beijing’s assurances on her well-being,” DiManno, an Austrian who lives in Washington, said on her Facebook page. “Don’t buy the lies from a Communist regime that, not even a decade ago, would be considered insane and would offer no help.
“Simply put, Beijing will never give true security for their dissidents. She shouldn’t, nor should any other human rights champion. She should continue to insist on her freedom and challenge the system at every turn. So many athletes from China are willing to stand up. So far, none have been heard from.
“We must maintain pressure for everyone in China, including Pu Zhiqiang, Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, Ai Weiwei, and those incarcerated for their works. The true victors are the Chinese people.
“China claims democracy but it’s not stable. We can imagine what chaos Beijing would face in case of a Tiananmen-style ‘Uprising.’”
DiManno is the current executive director of Women in Golf, which works to advocate for the equality of women in golf. She was asked to comment on Zhuang Ping, the general manager of the Ladies Professional Golf Association’s China Tour. She’s the daughter of international tennis legend and former Fed Cup captain Boris Becker.
In a statement released through the LPGA, Ping said Peng and all members of the China Tour were “feeling safe and are in good health. They are enjoying an exciting time in the United States.”
Peng initially gave a dramatic account to the BBC when she arrived in the United States on Friday.
“A week before the finals of the $2.1 million Hall of Fame Championship (the largest women’s golf tournament in history), I’m not allowed to leave China,” she said in the initial statement. “I’m detained in Kunming city on charges of assaulting a policeman, which can only be a political reason. If this allegation is proven true, I will continue my struggle and fight for my freedom.
“Right now, I am stuck in China in a middle jail, I don’t know when I will be deported or released, I don’t know what the hell is going on, if my court case goes ahead, if the case will be resolved or if it will be dropped. My family and I are extremely shocked, terrified and absolutely distraught by this situation. I feel like I am in a dream or I’m not even dreaming.”
Peng later said she spoke to a police officer to say “I didn’t do anything, and to ask for my passport. It’s my right,” but he took the passport, Ping said. Peng said that she was alone in her cell when she wrote a letter to the police, in which she asked for help in getting out of China. Ping said he could not be certain what the problem was with Peng’s request for a passport, but she was detained because of an incident in which a police officer said she had beaten his wife.
Ping denied Peng was in custody. The LPGA’s full statement said “pending the results of investigations and additional medical checkups, the LPGA regrets this situation has occurred. We are monitoring it closely and will continue to offer whatever support we can to all our players.”
Becker, who is credited with enabling Evonne Goolagong to become the first Australian woman to win a Grand Slam title, said on Twitter he would not feel safe in China if Peng would not be allowed to play. “@RosieDiManno I have to tell you how I feel. If this is to be the way Chinese politics are, then it’s too dangerous for me to play in China. This is a terrifying moment for my daughter. Please do not lose your faith in the game.”