In November, Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai posted a message on the Chinese social media platform Weibo claiming that a high-ranking Chinese Communist Party official, Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli, had “forced” her to have sex.
Within minutes, the post was taken down, Peng disappeared from the Chinese internet, and her friends said she was nowhere to be found. Concern grew that Peng had been jailed for making her accusation. The Women’s Tennis Association, the IOC, and other tennis stars pleaded with the Chinese government not to harm her.
In a carefully choreographed appearance at a youth tennis event two weeks later, Peng emerged claiming to be fine and unharmed. It wasn’t very convincing. The WTA demanded to interview her, and when the Chinese authorities refused, they canceled all pro tennis tournaments in China.
Now a Shanghai newspaper says that they interviewed Peng and that she told them that she never said that Zang had assaulted her.
The Lianhe Zaobao Chinese-language newspaper posted video of Peng it says was taken Sunday in Shanghai in which she said she has been mainly staying at home in Beijing but was free to come and go as she chose.
“First of all, I want to emphasize something that is very important. I have never said that I wrote that anyone sexually assaulted me. I need to emphasize this point very clearly,” Peng told the newspaper’s reporter.
The reporter did not ask how or why the lengthy and highly detailed Nov. 2 post appeared or whether Peng’s account had been hacked.
That Nov. 2 post on Weibo was sheer dynamite. But as Peng pointed out, she had no proof.
“I know that someone of your eminence, Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli, you’ll say that you’re not afraid”, Ms Peng wrote in her post, “but even if it’s just striking a stone with a pebble, or a moth attacking a flame and courting self destruction, I will tell the truth about you.”
She said he had first coerced her after she visited his home to play tennis. “That afternoon I didn’t give my consent and couldn’t stop crying,” she wrote. “You brought me to your house and forced me and you to have relations”.
You would guess that if her account had been hacked, she would have angrily denied that she wrote it, given the problems she obviously knew it would cause.
The Chinese Communists have a hold of some kind over her — threats to family members or friends. Peng isn’t the first prisoner of the Chinese Communists who isn’t behind bars but has been silenced anyway due to the implicit threat of government action against a loved one.
With the Winter Olympics coming up in February, the Chinese Communists are trying to scrub all the blemishes from their image that they can.
Representatives of China’s Foreign Ministry have said they are unaware of Ms. Peng’s allegations. Questions and answers about Ms. Peng have been omitted from official daily transcripts published by the ministry. On China’s tightly regulated internet, discussions of Ms. Peng’s situation have been muted.
The Foreign Ministry has protested what it says are attempts to politicize the 2022 Olympic Games.
The editor of a Chinese government newspaper said she received a video clip of Peng that she posted to Twitter — despite Twitter being banned in China.
Ms. Chen wrote that she had received the video from a friend and that it had been taken on Sunday morning during the International Ski Federation’s Cross-Country Skiing China City Tour in Shanghai, the same event at which Singapore’s Lianhe Zaobao interviewed Ms. Peng.
The tennis player, sporting a black down jacket and a red T-shirt emblazoned with the characters for China, also said to the reporter from Lianhe Zaobao that she had been living freely.
“Why would I be under surveillance? I’ve always been very free,” Ms. Peng said.
From Peng Shuai's interview:
1. Peng emphasized that she didn't accuse anyone of sexual assault. The "sexual assault" or even "rape" story was completely hyped up by western media
2. CGTN's screenshot was an English translated version of Peng's email written in Chinese pic.twitter.com/axGnNOQJEV
— Long Live The People (@LongLive_ThePpl) December 19, 2021