China’s most blunt response to the controversy surrounding tennis player Peng Shuai has been that it has been “maliciously built up.”
After bringing sexual assault charges against China’s former vice premier, Ms Peng vanished from public view for about three weeks, causing great worldwide alarm.
She has subsequently reappeared, although her whereabouts remain unknown.
China’s foreign ministry stated on Tuesday that it was “not a diplomatic problem.”
“I believe you’ve all seen that she recently attended various public events and had a video call [with the president of the International Olympic Committee],” said spokeswoman Zhao Lijian. “I believe certain individuals should refrain from purposefully and maliciously publicizing [the problem], let alone politicizing it,” he stated.
Ms Peng, 35, is a prominent tennis player in China. She claimed that former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli, who is 75, “forced” her to have sexual contact with him in a 1,600-word post on Chinese social media site Weibo earlier this month.
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“I will reveal the truth about you, even if it means striking a stone with a pebble or a moth assaulting a flame and courting self-destruction,” she wrote. It was the first time such a charge had been leveled against a top Chinese politician. Mr. Zhang has yet to reply to the charges leveled against him.
For several weeks after uploading her message on Weibo, the tennis star was neither heard or seen in public. Her safety became a source of worldwide worry, with players like as Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka joining appeals from governments and tennis authorities seeking assurances that she was secure.
As a result of the criticism, Chinese official media released a series of images and videos that claimed to prove that everything was well.