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19 Dec, 2021 13:51

Chinese tennis star re-emerges in new footage (VIDEO)

Chinese tennis star re-emerges in new footage (VIDEO)

Amid an international outcry of concern for her safety, fresh but still unverified footage of the Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai has been posted online.

Uploaded by Qingqing Chen, a reporter for the Global Times, which is owned and run by the state in Beijing, the video shows the 35-year-old Peng speaking with compatriot basketball legend Yao Ming.

Chen says that the seven-second clip was forwarded to her by a "friend" and was shot at a Shanghai event to promote a cross-country skiing tour.

In it, Peng is seen smiling and laughing as she listens to Yao, and Chen also shared a photo of the tennis star with Yao and former table tennis player Wang Liqin plus Olympic sailing gold medalist Xu Lijia.

The quartet pose together with Shanghai's iconic Yangpu bridge in the background. According to CGTN, the Shangai stop of the tour took place on Saturday. 

While the footage is still unverified, Chen will have also had to use a VPN-type tool to access Twitter, which is banned in China but often used by diplomats and state media to defend its reputation. 

A doubles champion at Wimbledon and the French Open and well-known in tennis, Peng made global headlines in November after appearing to post accusations of sexual assault against ex-vice-premier Zhang Gaoli on social media site Weibo.

Peng accused the 75-year-old of forcing her into sexual intercourse in an intermittent relationship that spanned years.

The outburst was quickly taken down, with Weibo fined by the state this week, but Peng has seldom been since in public since sparking global outcry.

In response to the furor, the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) has suspended all of its tournaments in mainland China and Hong Kong while the likes of men's world number one Novak Djokovic have described the matter as "shocking".

The new footage isn't the first time that the Chinese state has attempted to appease those concerned for Peng's well-being.

Photos of her at a Beijing tennis tournament have been shared too, in addition to a screenshot of an email she allegedly wrote saying that "everything is fine".

At the end of November, Peng held a 30-minute phone call with International Olympic Committee (IOC) boss Thomas Bach.

"We could not feel her being under pressure," Bach later said"

It's very easy to have suspicions but our approach is to get this relationship with her and to assure her that we care about her. She appreciated this very much during both calls."

Bach and his organization were accused of being naive for their stance on the matter, with Human Rights Watch claiming that "the IOC is now actively playing a role in the Chinese government's enforced disappearance, coercion and propaganda machinery."