Beijing terms Peng Shuai’s case as being ‘maliciously hyped up’

DM Monitoring

BEIJING: China stated on Tuesday that the controversy surrounding Peng Shuai was being “maliciously” overblown, following the Chinese tennis star’s sexual assault allegations against one of the country’s most influential leaders Zhang Gaoli.
Peng, a doubles winner at Wimbledon and the French Open, went missing for more than two weeks after accusing a former vice-premier of sexual assault. The WTA Tour demanded that the Chinese authorities investigate sexual assault claims made by Peng Shuai. The women’s tennis governing body also ordered that the former top-ranked doubles player’s censorship be lifted.
Players ranging from Naomi Osaka to Serena Williams to Novak Djokovic had expressed concerns over Peng Shuai’s location. Even photographs and videos from Chinese media couldn’t quell the increasing worry. The 35-year-old resurfaced in public for the first time this weekend, when she was observed attending a tennis event in Beijing.
“I think some people should stop deliberately and maliciously hyping up, let alone politicise this issue,” foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said in answer to a query about how the case harmed China’s international image.
The remark was the Chinese government’s most direct response to Peng’s case. Until Tuesday, Beijing has frequently dismissed queries about her whereabouts and well-being, claiming that they were “not a diplomatic issue”
Evidence supporting her assertions has also been removed from China’s heavily restricted internet. The ITF, the UN Office for Human Rights, and others have expressed worry over the whereabouts of the doubles tennis star.