Peng Shuai, the Wimbledon tennis champion and the French Open women’s doubles champion, has changed her words, denying that she was sexually assaulted by former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli, according to

Last November 2021, Peng revealed that Zhang had sexually abused her in a post on Weibo which was quickly deleted. Peng disappeared for nearly three weeks afterwards. 

Under international pressure, the Chinese Communist Party officials finally let Peng Shuai “reappear” via images and videos, raising doubts if she was able to speak and move freely. 

On Dec. 19, Peng Shuai appeared in an interview that took place on the sidelines of a skiing competition in Shanghai and talked about the incident in public. 

Speaking to Singaporean reporter Lianhe Zaobao, the tennis world champion denied accusing someone of sexually assaulting her. She added that people misunderstood what she wrote in the post on Weibo and that she was free to come and go as she wants. 

Bystanders decided that the interview took place in an extremely unusual way.

The press conference was held without any other international media outlets, and Lianhe Zaobao was the sole reporter asking questions.  

Li Youtan, an assistant lecturer from Taiwan Chengchi University, raised a question on why Peng Shuai only accepted the interview from the Singaporean newspaper.

According to scholars, Peng Shuai may have collaborated with the CCP. 

Feng Chongyi, an associate professor at the Sydney University of Technology, supposed that Peng Shuai was either under control or her family and friends were kept as hostages by the CCP. 

The international community is questioning if her statement is trustworthy or not because her speech now may be under the CCP’s command.

Li Youtan assumed that the CCP held the press conference to win the public’s trust. Then, if Peng Shuai was forced to tell lies, it is hard to uncover the truth under the CCP’s power.  

The International Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) said that Peng Shuai’s public appearance does not fully reassure audiences about the star’s well-being. At the same time, they called for another investigation. 

According to Feng Chongyi, Peng Shuai has a chance to clarify the incident after the WTA’s initial request for further investigation, but she is currently unable to do this because of the CCP’s numerous tricks. For some reason, Peng eventually denied being sexually assaulted to protect the next-year Olympic Games hosted by the CCP. 

Scholars also believed that if Peng Shuai did not deny the sexual assault incident, Zhang Gaoli would appear to clarify the matter and could even sue Peng Shuai for tarnishing his reputation. 

Zhang, however, has not been seen since the investigation began, and the mainland media has never mentioned “Zhang Gaoli” since then. 

Li Youtan said that the current public concern is whether women’s rights are being restricted under the CCP’s dictatorship. 

Feng Chongyi believes that if the CCP takes advantage of Peng Shuai to refuse to carry out an investigation, then nobody will have a reason to sue officials. 

Though the CCP is struggling to keep the Beijing Winter Olympics on schedule, the United States and many other countries have announced a diplomatic boycott of the games in 2022 because of the CCP’s human rights abuses and the Peng Shuai case as well.

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