Peng Shuai Denies Making Sexual Assault Charges Against Chinese Vice Premier

FILE - China's Peng Shuai reacts during her first round singles match against Japan's Nao Hibino at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia on Jan. 21, 2020. The editor of a Communist Party newspaper posted a video online that he said showed missing tennis star Peng Shuai watching …
AP Photo/Andy Brownbill, File

Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai has finally come out on camera only to deny her earlier accusations that a Chinese official raped her.

Early in November, Shuai posted a message to her Chinese social media account saying that she had been sexually abused in 2019 by Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli. But her Weibo account was quickly shut down and the post was deleted. Shuai then spent nearly a month in isolation, not being seen on her own in public for more than three weeks.

Chinese Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli makes a speech during the Philippines - China Trade and Investment Fourm at the Great Hall of the People on October...

Chinese Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli makes a speech on October 20, 2016, in Beijing, China. (Wu Hong-Pool/Getty Images)

Shuai did appear in several government-sponsored posts with Chinese officials claiming that the athlete was not being re-educated out of her sexual assault claims and that she was still as free as any other Chinese subject.

But now, Shuai was seen on camera denouncing anyone who may have “misunderstood” her original, now-deleted post.

“First, I need to stress one point that is extremely important, I have never said or written that anyone has sexually assaulted me, I have to clearly stress this point,” Peng said in the video posted by a media outlet in Singapore, Reuters reported.

Shuai added that the message about Vice Premier Gaoli that was deleted by the Chinese government is a “private matter” and that people have had “many misunderstandings” about what she was saying — though she did not elaborate on just what misunderstandings there could have been.

The athlete also claimed that she had not disappeared and was just living in her home without supervision.

Finally, she claimed that she wrote a letter to the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) telling them that there was no sexual assault and insisting that the accounts of her situation reported by Chinese state media outlets were accurate.

On December 1, the WTA withdrew its support of all its events scheduled in China until it was satisfied that Shuai was free of oppression. And WTA CEO Steve Simon said that it seemed clear that Shuai was being “influenced by others” n her public statements made since the deletion of her post and her disappearance from public view.

Shuai’s sudden turnaround may seem hard to believe when reading her full, original statement in which it seems clear that she was pressured into a sexual relationship by a powerful member of the Chinese government.

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