Publication:

Sunday Times (Sri Lanka) - 2021-11-21

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Peng will reappear in public ‘soon’ - Global Times editor

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Giant as “Chinese state-affiliated media”.

BEIJING REUTERS Nov 2: Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai has been staying in her own home “freely” and will make a public appearance “soon”, Global Times editor-in-chief Hu Xijin, a prominent state-media journalist, said on Saturday. Former doubles world number one Peng has not been seen or heard from publicly since she said on Chinese social media on Nov. 2 that former vice-premier Zhang Gaoli coerced her into sex and they later had an on-off consensual relationship. Neither Zhang nor the Chinese government have commented on her allegation. Peng's social media post was quickly deleted and the topic has been blocked from discussion on China's heavily censored internet. “In the past few days, she stayed in her own home freely and she didn't want to be disturbed. She will show up in public and participate in some activities soon,” Hu wrote https://twitter. com/HuXijin_GT/status/1461905928324669446 on Twitter. The Global Times is published by the People's Daily, the official newspaper of Chinas ruling Communist Party. Hu said he had confirmed through his sources that photos shared on Twitter by a journalist working for Chinese state media, purportedly showing Peng at home, depicted her “current state”. Reuters was not able to verify the authenticity of the pictures independently. Amid growing concern about her whereabouts, the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) has threatened to pull tournaments out of China and the men's ATP has demanded clarity from the Chinese authorities. The United States has called for proof of Peng's whereabouts and safety. The International Olympic Committee could be pushed into taking a hard line with the 2022 Beijing Olympic hosts, senior IOC member Dick Pound has told Reuters. Thus far the IOC has declined to comment on Peng's matter, saying it believed “quiet diplomacy” offered the best opportunity for a solution. Peng Shuai allegations and whereabouts - what we know Peng Shuai is at the centre of growing concern after the tennis star alleged earlier this month that a powerful Chinese politician sexually assaulted her. The 35-year-old Peng, a former world number one in doubles, has not been seen since. It was the first time that the #MeToo movement has struck at the top echelons of China's ruling Communist Party. Here’s what we know so far: The allegation On November 2, Peng appears to have posted on China's Twitter-like Weibo damaging claims about former vice-premier Zhang Gaoli. Peng alleged that he had coerced her into sex during a long-time on-off relationship. There has been no response from Zhang, who is in his seventies. The censorship Peng's post was soon deleted, but not before social media users took screenshots. Those were censored on China's heavily vetted Internet and still are. But Peng's allegation was posted to Twitter -- which is banned in China -- allowing it to reach a worldwide audience. Peng still comes up on search results online in China, but her allegations do not, and searches for her and Zhang together also show nothing. The outcry On Twitter, #WhereIsPengShuai began to gain traction, with tennis players past and present using the hashtag to voice concern for her safety. Four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka wrote that she was “in shock”, with tennis great Serena Williams stating she was “devastated and shocked” and calling for an investigation. Men's world number one Novak Djokovic told reporters: “Honestly, it's shocking that she's missing.” The official response The Women's Tennis Association (WTA) called for Peng's allegations to “be investigated fully, fairly, transparently and without censorship”. WTA chairman Steve Simon said he had been told “from several sources” that Peng was safe. China's tennis association did not reply to AFP requests for comment and the foreign ministry also declined to comment. The political reaction As the outcry grew over Peng's case, White House spokesperson Jen Psaki said the Biden administration wanted China to “provide independent, verifiable proof ” of Peng's whereabouts. Meanwhile, the United Nations also weighed in, insisting on a fully transparent investigation into her claims. The email, photos There was a new twist when China's state-run CGTN published a screenshot on Twitter of an email it alleged was from Peng to the WTA in which she claimed her accusations were “not true” and “everything is fine”. Doubts were quickly flagged about the awkward language and a cursor visible in the screenshot. Simon said it “only raises my concerns”. Late Friday, four undated photographs -- which could not be independently verified by AFP -- were shared by the Twitter account @shen_ shiwei, labelled by the social media

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