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19 Dec, 2021 19:11

Chinese tennis star denies sex assault allegations in new video

Chinese tennis star denies sex assault allegations in new video

Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai, whose well-being has caused international concern since she posted allegations of sexual assault, has appeared to deny all claims against a former Chinese vice-premier.

In a new video which appeared on Sunday, Peng denied accusing anyone of sexually assaulting her and claimed that a lengthy post she made on local social media outlet Weibo in November, which was later taken down, had been misunderstood.

The video was posted by Singapore media outlet Lianhe Zaobao after footage had been shared of Peng with basketball legend Yao Ming at a Shanghai event. 

"First, I need to stress one point that is extremely important, I have never said or written that anyone has sexually assaulted me, I have to clearly stress this point," Peng said in the latest clip. 

Peng added that her post on Weibo was a "private matter" which "people have many misunderstandings" about. 

Peng, 35, claimed to have been living at her home in Beijing without supervision since global concerns for her safety were raised, and said that she wrote to WTA chief Steve Simon last month to deny the allegations of sexual assault she had apparently lodged against 75-year-old Zhang Gaoli, though the latter figure wasn't mentioned in her new video address.

The Wimbledon and French Open doubles winner insisted that an English translation of the letter to Simon by state media in China was accurate.

The WTA has canceled tournaments in the Asian country as a response to the furor, while Simon said he "had a hard time believing" Peng had actually written the email or what was attributed to her.

Peng's denial comes as the Chinese capital prepares to host the Winter Olympics in February amid a US diplomatic boycott.

As the wider world believed Peng to have gone into forced hiding, after being absent from the public eye for almost three weeks since making her post, International Olympic Committee (IOC) chief Thomas Bach held a video call with her for which his organization was widely-criticized and deemed to have cozied up to the Chinese government. 

On Sunday, a separate video of Peng smiling and laughing at a Shanghai event with Ming was posted by Qingqing Chen, a reporter for the Global Times, which is owned and run by the state in Beijing.

Believed to be from the Shanghai stop of a cross-country skiing tour, a photo of her, Ming, former table tennis player Wang Liqin and Olympic sailing gold medalist Xu Lijia in front of the iconic Yangpu bridge was also published by the same reporter, which marks the most active weekend of media related to Peng that the world has had access to since the controversy began.

READ MORE: ITF won’t axe events in China over Peng Shuai scandal because it would ‘punish a billion people’