Speed Reads

Nothing to see here folks

Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai tells newspaper she never accused anyone of sexual assault. People are skeptical.

Chinese tennis champion Peng Shuai wrote a 1,600-word post on social media in early November, accusing a former high-ranking Chinese official of forcing her to have sex with him. China's censors quickly scrubbed the post from China's internet, and Peng disappeared from view for weeks, sparking concerns for her safety. On Monday, Chinese-language Singaporean newspaper Lianhe Zaobao posted a video from Beijing in which Peng says there was "a lot of misunderstandings" about the post. 

"I have never said or written that anyone sexually assaulted me," Peng told Lianhe Zaobao, evidently on the sidelines of a Beijing Winter Olympics promotional event Sunday. "This point must be emphasized very clearly." She also said she personally wrote the Chinese version of an email to the Women's Tennis Association retracting her accusation against former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli and assuring the WTA that everything is fine. Peng said the English translation is accurate and claimed she is not under surveillance.

The WTA said it welcomed Peng's appearance "in a public setting," but the video does not "alleviate or address" their "concerns about her wellbeing and ability to communicate without censorship or coercion." The WTA also reiterated its "call for a full, fair and transparent investigation" into Peng's "allegation of sexual assault, which is the issue that gave rise to our initial concern."

The WTA has suspended all events in China until it is convinced that Peng is safe and her accusation investigated, but the International Olympic Committee says it is convinced from two video chats with Peng that she is doing fine. "Zhang, 75, was a member of the party's all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee until 2018 and a top lieutenant to president and party leader Xi Jinping," The Associated Press reports. "He has not appeared in public or commented on Peng's accusation."