China

Chinese tennis player says she never accused anyone of sexual assault

PHOTO: Wikimedia

The mystery surrounding Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai continues, with the player now denying she ever made an accusation of sexual assault. Last month, Peng posted comments on Weibo, the Chinese social media platform, alleging that Zhang Gaoli, a former senior government official, would force her into having sex during their on-off relationship. The post was quickly deleted, but not before screenshots made it onto Twitter.

The claim sparked outrage around the world, with international tennis stars and the United Nations expressing their concerns. Meanwhile, for a period of 3 weeks afterwards, Peng was nowhere to be seen. She then re-emerged, attending a tennis tournament and posing for photos. The Women’s Tennis Association also received an email, purporting to be from Peng, insisting she was fine. However, Steve Simon, head of the WTA, says he finds it hard to believe the email was written by Peng and questions her ability to speak freely.

In the latest development, Peng has spoken to Lianhe Zaobao, a Singaporean Chinese-language publication, and again insisted she is not the victim of coercion or intimidation by the Chinese government. She has also denied ever making an allegation of sexual assault.

“I would like to stress a very important point: I have never said nor written anything accusing anyone of sexually assaulting me. I would like to emphasise this point very clearly.”

When pressed on her original social media post, she responds by saying the matter is private and that there have been “misunderstandings” over it. However, she would not be drawn any further on the matter.

According to an AFP report, Peng insists the email she wrote to the WTA was legitimate and that she wrote it of her own free will. The WTA however, is calling for a full and transparent investigation into Peng’s original allegations and has suspended all its tournaments in China, including Hong Kong.

SOURCE: AFP

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Maya Taylor

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