New Delhi: Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai after alleging a senior Communist Party leader of sexual assault earlier now has denied the charges against him. In her first media interview since she raised allegations against former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli, Peng said denied making the allegation.
“I would like to stress a very important point: I have never said nor written anything accusing anyone of sexually assaulting me,” said 35-year-old Peng to a Singaporean-Chinese language newspaper, Linahe Zaobao in Shanghai.
“I would like to emphasise this point very clearly,” she added.
Peng had alleged former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli of coercing her into sex during an on-off relationship, which went on for several years, in a post on Twitter-like platforms, Weibo.
The post was quickly taken down but screenshots of the same had already done rounds on Twitter triggering global concerns.
When asked about the Weibo post, Peng said that it was a “private matter” and that people had “many misunderstandings” about it.
In the Zaobao footage, a person was heard asking if she was under any surveillance since she made the accusation, to which Peng responded that she has “always been very free,” as reported by AFP.
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While Peng has been claiming that she was under no coercion or surveillance, the Women’s Tennis Association was still not convinced. On Monday the WTA said that it had “significant concerns about her well-being and ability to communicate without censorship or coercion.”
Peng’s quickly-censored social media post had set off global concerns about the Chinese tennis star that included the United Nations, the White House, and fellow tennis players.
The WTA demanded a fair and transparent investigation into the matter. In an email to AFP, the WTA said, “We remain steadfast in our call for a full, fair and transparent investigation, without censorship, into her allegation of sexual assault.”
The latest video of Peng was followed by a screenshot of an email written by Peng to WTA saying that “everything is fine.”
However, WTA chief Steve Simon said that he had “a hard time believing” the email and raised doubt whether she was really free to speak.
The WTA has suspended all tournaments in China and Hong Kong over concerns about Peng.
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