Tennis star Ping denies allegations of abuse

Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai has denied accusing former Vice Premier Zhang Qaoli of sexual assault. Shuai made her remarkable statement in an interview published in Lianhe Zaobao, the largest Chinese-language newspaper in Singapore. VVD MP and foreign spokesperson for that party, Robin Breckelmans described it as “astounding and sad”.

In early November, the world number one doubles champion Peng accused former Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli of sexual assault via social media Weibo. Her message was quickly deleted and after that she was missing for some time. She now says she has been at her home in Beijing all this time and has not been restricted. When asked about her claims on Weibo, she denied making these claims. “First, I would like to emphasize a very important point: I have not said or written anything accusing anyone of sexually abusing me. I want to emphasize this point very clearly.

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“Very sad,” Brickelman says, “maybe she feels compelled to make this statement for her own safety.” According to Brickelmans, China is interested in the matter and the regime can do two things: address the former deputy prime minister or silence this tennis star. It is clear that China is choosing the second option.

The VVD MP member believes what the WTA has done is a good thing – no more tournaments until the issue is resolved – and praises that Western embassies have talked about it. A political boycott, as advocated by the US, UK, Australia and Canada, is not a good idea, he believes he can achieve more by going.

With the Olympics, China is under a magnifying glass, and now is the time to raise issues such as human rights. I think it’s wise to go, but European countries can also decide to fit in with the rest of the Western world. It is difficult to put pressure on China, we have few powers.

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The WTA is still worried

The WTA, which operates under the women’s tennis umbrella, said it remains concerned about Shuai’s well-being in response to the interview: “We remain deeply concerned about her safety and her ability to communicate without censorship or coercion. We are consistent in our call for a full, fair and transparent investigation, without censorship, into her allegations of sexual assault.” The WTA has decided not to hold professional tournaments in the country next year.

Megan Vasquez

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