Peng Shuai denies sexual assault allegations in new video, but “growing concerns” remain

Peng Shuai, China’s two-time doubles Grand Slam champion, denies claiming in November that she was sexually assaulted by a former Communist Party leader. In one video published by the Singaporean publication Lianhe Zaobao, Peng said “there has been a lot of misunderstanding” regarding a social media post that has since been deleted.

“I wanted to be very clear: I never claimed or wrote that someone sexually assaulted me,” she said. Peng also added that the house arrest charges were inaccurate.

“Why would anyone watch over me?” ” she said. “I have always been very free.

On November 2, Peng accused Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli of pressuring her to have sex with him despite her refusals three years ago in the social media post. Peng also said that she had sex with Zhang seven years ago and developed feelings for him afterwards, according to the Associated Press.

Peng was not seen directly in public for 18 days after his charge, prompting the World Tennis Association, the White House, several tennis players and more to ask the Chinese government to provide proof of his safety recently. and its location.

The International Olympic Committee held a second appeal with Peng on December 1 and said she had “reconfirmed” that she was safe and healthy amid continued concerns for her well-being, the body said. leader of the Olympic Games.

The IOC’s appeal to Peng came the same day the WTA suspended all tournaments in China following “censorship” of Peng’s sexual assault allegation against a former government official. The suspension took effect immediately.

Chinese state media published a message attributed to Peng and called it a retraction of her charge that she was under house arrest. The message attributed to Peng was tweeted by CGTN, part of the Chinese public broadcaster CCTV. In the message, Peng said she was safe, despite her whereabouts still unknown.

After the statement was released, WTA CEO Steve Simon raised concerns for Peng, saying he didn’t believe she wrote the message assigned to him. The next day, a Twitter account from the editor of the Chinese Global Times posted videos of Peng, one of her with people having dinner and another appearing to show her having dinner at a restaurant. Despite this, Simon called Peng’s videos insufficient and said the WTA “is at a crossroads” with China.

Peng’s latest message to Lianhe Zaobao still raises questions. Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, said he has “only growing concerns” about the pressure to which the Chinese government is putting her.

“Tennis star Peng Shuai now claims she has never accused anyone of sexually assaulting her – having clearly accused a senior Chinese official of precisely that,” Roth tweeted.

(Photo: Xinhua / Bai Xue via Getty Images)

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