China. In U-turn, Peng Shuai Denies Sexual Assault Allegations Against CCP Official | world news

Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai denied accusing anyone of sexual assault in his first interview with independent international media, three months after his #MeToo allegation against a senior retired Chinese Communist Party (CCP) official was sent shockwaves through the sports world.

Peng, 36, a former Chinese tennis world number one in doubles, appeared to accuse former vice premier Zhang Gaoli, 75, in a blog post on Chinese social media in November of forcing her to have sex and then continue. secret relationship with her for years.

In an interview with French news outlet L’Equipe from a hotel room in Beijing on Sunday, Peng said: “I never said anyone sexually assaulted me in any way.”

Peng was accompanied by Wang Kan, chief of staff of the Chinese Olympic Committee.

A three-time Olympian, Peng’s well-being became a matter of concern after her November post was quickly deleted and she did not appear publicly for days.

This sparked an international outcry, leading the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) to suspend tournaments in China.

“I never disappeared, everyone could see me,” she told the French newspaper. “What happened – I have already answered this question, in an interview in Shanghai as well as an email to the WTA, and many other emails”.

“This post has given rise to a huge misunderstanding from the outside world. I hope we don’t twist the meaning of this post anymore. And I also hope we don’t add more hype about it,” Peng said, according to translations of the interview.

Peng said his “private life shouldn’t be involved in sports and politics” and that “sport shouldn’t be politicized because when it is, most of the time it’s like turning your back to the Olympic spirit, and this goes against the will of the sporting world and the athletes”.

“I don’t think I was aware of everything (the global interest) because I don’t watch foreign media news much,” she added.

“I can’t read English, but I’ve heard of it. I never thought there would be such a concern, though, and I’d like to know why? »

Peng’s denial to the French newspaper contradicts her November post on China’s Weibo Twitter where she wrote, according to a New York Times translation: “I never consented that afternoon, crying the whole time.”

Peng wrote that after being promoted to the Standing Committee in 2013 and during his tenure as a member of the party leadership, Zhang did not contact her.

But after retiring in 2018, he reached out to her and their relationship resumed despite his wife knowing about it.

Peng was invited by Zhang to his home at a time when his wife was present and was coerced into having sex, according to the post.

Weeks after Peng’s claim, China’s Foreign Ministry said it hoped the “malicious hype” about Peng’s whereabouts and well-being would stop and his case would not be politicized.

Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said “some people” should stop the “malicious hype” and “politicization” of tennis star Peng’s issue, as the global government-led review foreigners and sports and rights organizations continued to raise questions about his safety.

Former Vice Premier Zhang did not comment on the matter.

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