Chinese Tennis star Peng Shuai appears for the first time at public event, weeks after making sexual assault allegations against top government official
Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai (fourth from the left ) appeared at a Beijing tennis tournament Sunday, November 21, according to official event photos, after international pressure mounted for information about her wellbeing.
The two-time Grand Slam doubles champion had not been seen publicly since alleging earlier this month that former vice-premier Zhang Gaoli, now in his 70s, forced her into sex during an on-off relationship spanning several years.
In the footage, Peng can be seen in a navy sports jacket and white track pants at the Fila Kids Junior Tennis Challenger Finals, according to photos published on the official Weibo account of the China Open.
Following a global outcry, including from tennis superstars and the United Nations, Chinese state media reporters released the footage to show all is well with Peng.
A video from the event, tweeted by Global Times newspaper editor Hu Xijin, shows Peng standing in a stadium among a group of guests whose names are announced.
A Global Times reporter tweeted another video showing Peng signing autographs for children at what appears to be the same stadium before posing for photos with them.
Hu also posted two other videos on Saturday, the first showing Peng walking into a restaurant wearing a coat, knit cap and face mask.
A visible sign says Beijing Yibin Guesthouse, a famous restaurant at the Sichuan local government.
In the second, Peng is maskless sitting at a table chatting with people over a meal.
The video content showed they are shot on Saturday Beijing time.”
The conversation revolved around “tennis matches”. A man sitting with Peng and two women said “tomorrow is November 20th”.
But one of the women quickly corrects him, saying, “It is the 21st”, implying that the video was filmed on Saturday.
Peng’s claims against Zhang were the first time China’s #MeToo movement has touched the highest echelons of the ruling Communist Party.
They quickly deleted from Weibo, China’s biggest social media platform, and concerns have grown for her safety since.
Women’s Tennis Association boss Steve Simon said he was glad to see the images but “it remains unclear if she is free and able to make decisions and take actions on her own, without coercion or external interference”.
“This video alone is insufficient,” Simon said in a statement.
“I have been clear about what needs to happen and our relationship with China is at a crossroads.”