Peng Shuai: WTA chief says Chinese tennis star’s new video “insufficient” for his safety

Simon expressed his relief at seeing Peng on Saturday, but said, “It is still unclear whether she is free and capable of making decisions and acting on her own, without coercion or outside interference.”

CNN was unable to independently verify the videos or confirm when they were filmed.

“This video alone is insufficient. As I said from the beginning, I remain concerned about Peng Shuai’s health and safety and that the sexual assault allegation is being censored and swept under the rug. have been clear on what needs to happen and our relationship with China is at a crossroads, ”Simon’s statement said.

What the clips show

Several people linked to state media and the Chinese sports system tweeted photos and videos which they said show Peng having dinner on Saturday. The clips seem to deliberately focus on specific dates.

One of the video clips, only 45 seconds long, appears to show Peng sitting with China Open tournament co-director Zhang Junhui with two women around a table in a Beijing restaurant.

Throughout the video, Zhang talks to Peng, but she doesn’t say anything.

At one point, according to the CNN translation, Zhang said, “Yes, this year is different from last year, because of the pandemic. We originally planned to have 10 tours in three months, right tomorrow November 20th? We have long planned … “

But one of the two women quickly corrected him by saying “21”.

“Oh, November 21, tomorrow is November 21, we will have the final game in Zuanshi,” Zhang continued.

“We used to have larger-scale games, but due to the pandemic two tours were affected. So it is estimated that there will be fewer players, but the kids are still very excited,” Zhang added.

“So tomorrow’s players of the game are the champions of the last nine tours over the past three months. You can see it’s Sunday, the end of November, so it’s like an end of year final,” he said. Zhang said in the video.

Another man, by the name of Ding Li, also tweeted the same video and several new photos of Peng with him and others. He wrote, “Peng Shuai is with me. We are at this restaurant in Beijing that has gone viral online, we just finished dinner.”

In his tweet, Ding claims that the dinner is at the Beijing Yibin Guesthouse. The name of the restaurant matches what is shown in this video posted by Hu Xijin, editor of the state tabloid Global Times.

Peng Shuai is seen in a still image from a video posted by a member of the Chinese state media, allegedly showing her at a tennis event on Sunday.  CNN was unable to independently verify the clip or confirm when it was filmed.

Chinese state media members posted more videos to social media on Sunday claiming to show Peng at a teen tennis event in Beijing. Throughout the videos, Peng says very little but he is seen smiling. CNN cannot independently verify the two video clips or confirm when they were filmed.

Increasing pressure

Beijing faces increasing global pressure on Peng’s fate, including from the United Nations, the United States government and the world’s biggest tennis stars. The UN Human Rights Office has called for an investigation into his allegations of sexual assault.

In a letter Friday, Simon called on the Chinese ambassador to the United States to prove Peng is safe and to investigate his sexual assault charges.

A spokesman for the British Foreign Office said China should “urgently provide verifiable evidence of its security and whereabouts,” according to the British Press Association. The statement came after a new video came out on Saturday purporting to show Peng, but before Sunday’s clips.

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Amid the global outcry, Chinese state media Twitter accounts, with Hu among the most active, increasingly published anonymous information about the tennis star, ostensibly aimed at appeasing the controversy without acknowledging his. claim against Zhang.

Chinese state media such as the Global Times are strictly controlled by the Chinese propaganda authorities. Their tweets on Peng go unreported in China, which has long banned Twitter and other international social media platforms.

Peng’s post about the alleged sexual assault posted on China’s Twitter-like platform Weibo was deleted within 30 minutes of posting, with Chinese censors moving swiftly to clear any mention of the accusation online . His Weibo account, which has more than half a million subscribers, is still blocked for researchers on the platform.

Simon, the WTA chief, said on Friday he was prepared to lose hundreds of millions of dollars in business in China if Peng was not fully considered and his allegations were not addressed. ‘an appropriate investigation.

Questions about veracity

Earlier in the week, Chinese state media published an email, allegedly sent to Simon from Peng, revisiting her allegations and saying she was fine.

The alleged email was only published on English-language platforms and domestic Chinese media did not report on its contents, although Peng is a household name in China.

When asked about the email, Simon questioned its veracity, describing it as a “staged statement of some type”, noting that he had not yet received a follow-up response, although he responded immediately.

“If she was forced to write it, someone wrote it for her, we don’t know,” Simon said. “But at this point, I don’t think it’s valid and we won’t be comfortable until we have a chance to speak with her,” he added.

Later on Friday, CGTN reporter Shen Shiwei tweeted three photos he claimed Peng posted on WeChat with the message “have a nice weekend.”

Shen said the photos were shared by one of Peng’s friends. CNN could not independently verify when the photos were taken, whether Peng posted the photos herself, or if they were posted.

In a Twitter post on Saturday, Hu of the Global Times reposted Peng’s photos.

“I confirmed today from my own sources that these photos are indeed Peng Shuai’s current state. For the past few days, she has been freely at home and she doesn’t want to be disturbed,” Hu tweeted. “She will be showing up in public and participating in some activities soon.”

Speaking at a press conference Thursday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said Peng’s accusation was not a diplomatic issue and declined to comment further.

CNN’s Kevin Dotson contributed to this report.

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