Chinese state media on Sunday posted videos showing tennis star Peng Shuai smiling and well, as international pressure mounted for information about his whereabouts. The two-time Grand Slam doubles champion has not been seen in public since earlier this month, when it was alleged that former Deputy Prime Minister Zhang Gaoli, now in her 70s, had committed suicide after a relationship that lasted several years. During her “forced” sex. Following global outcry, including from tennis superstars and the United Nations, Chinese state media have released footage to show that all is well with Peng.
In a video tweeted by Global Times newspaper editor Hu Zijin, Peng is seen standing in a stadium, which he described as “the opening ceremony of a teen tennis match final”.
He is among the group of guests whose names are announced to thunderous applause. There are few spectators in the stands.
A Global Times reporter tweeted another video, in which Peng is seen signing autographs for the children at the stadium before being photographed with the children.
In one of two other clips Hu posted on Saturday, she is seen walking into a restaurant wearing a coat, knitted hat and face mask.
A visible sign says Beijing Yibin Guesthouse, a well-known Sichuan restaurant, a stone’s throw from Tiananmen Square, owned by the Sichuan local government.
In another, Peng is sitting at a table chatting with people over a meal.
AFP could not confirm the authenticity of the video.
Hu tweeted in English that the second video shows “Peng Shuai having dinner with her coach and friends at a restaurant. The video content clearly shows she was shot on Saturday Beijing time.”
The conversation revolved around “tennis matches”. A man sitting with Peng and the two women said, “Tomorrow is November 20th”.
But one of the women immediately corrected her, saying, “It’s the 21st”, implying that the video was filmed on Saturday.
The chat appears to have been staged. It was filmed on a mobile phone in the evening. Peng is seen at ease in the footage.
Peng’s claims against Zhang are the first time China’s #MeToo movement has touched the highest echelons of the ruling Communist Party.
They were quickly removed from Weibo platforms such as Twitter, and concerns have grown for their safety since then.
In the new video, Women’s Tennis Association boss Steve Simon said he was happy to see the images, but “it is unclear whether she is independent and able to make decisions and take actions on her own, without coercion or externalities.” of interference.”
“This video alone is not enough,” Simon said in a statement.
“I am clear about what needs to happen and our relationship with China is at a crossroads.”
The WTA has threatened to terminate lucrative contracts with China unless it receives a word about Peng’s security.
Chinese state media have released what they say is proof that all is well with him.
First, state-run CGTN tweeted a screenshot last week that it said was an email from Peng to the WTA saying her allegations were not true and that she was “resting at home and all.” Ok”.
But doubts were raised about the strange language and a cursor seen in the screenshot.
Then pictures of Peng smiling surfaced on Friday on the Twitter account @shen_shiwei verified by the social network labeled Chinese state-affiliated media.
The images’ authenticity could not be verified, and the user did not respond to AFP’s request for comment.
This was followed by videos posted on Saturday and Sunday.
China has repeatedly declined to comment on the matter.
The discussion of Peng’s allegations on China’s tightly controlled internet is closed.
‘Independent, verifiable evidence’
A growing group of voices in the sports world and beyond want to know where and how Peng is.
The White House has expressed “deep concern” about Peng, with President Joe Biden’s press secretary saying his administration wanted China to provide “independent, verifiable evidence” of his whereabouts.
Britain’s Foreign Office also said it was “extremely concerned” and urged verifiable evidence from China.
UN insists on fully transparent investigation of claims made by Peng against Zhang
Some of tennis’ biggest names have spoken out about the case, including Serena Williams, Novak Djokovic and Naomi Osaka.
Superstar Roger Federer also said on Sky News on Saturday: “He is one of our tennis champions, the former world number one. Clearly it is a matter of concern. I hope he is safe.”
Peng represented China at the Beijing, London and Rio de Janeiro Olympics and won a gold medal for China at the 2010 Asian Games.
She is a former Wimbledon and French Open doubles champion.
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