© Reuters. File picture: Chinese player Peng Shuai serves in the Australian Open on January 15, 2019.REUTERS/Edgarsu/File Photo
BEIJING (Reuters)-Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai participated in a tennis match in Beijing on Sunday, according to official photos released by matches organized by the China Open. His whereabouts have been an issue of international concern for several weeks.
According to the pictures posted on the official WeChat page of the tournament, Peng, dressed in a dark blue jacket and white pants, can be seen among the guests of the Fila Kids Junior Tennis Challenge finals.
Since she said on Chinese social media on November 2 that former Deputy Prime Minister Zhang Gaoli had forced her to have sex, the former world number one in doubles has never appeared in public or heard from her.
Neither Zhang nor the Chinese government commented on her allegations. Peng’s social media post was quickly deleted, and the topic has been banned from discussion on the heavily censored Internet in China.
The World Tennis Organization has expressed concern, and the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) has threatened to withdraw the tournament from China. The United States and Britain have requested evidence of Peng’s whereabouts and safety.
A spokesperson for the organization told Reuters via email that the photos and video clips of Peng that appeared on Sunday were still “insufficient” and did not address WTA’s concerns.
The US and British embassies in Beijing did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment on Peng’s appearance in the Chinese capital on Sunday.
With global human rights organizations and other organizations calling for a boycott of its human rights record, China is preparing to host the Winter Olympics in Beijing in February, and Peng’s safety and whereabouts have surfaced.
Earlier on Sunday, Hu Xijin, editor of the official-supported newspaper Global Times, tweeted about Peng’s performance in the game. The Global Times is published by the People’s Daily, the official newspaper of China’s ruling Communist Party.
The video posted by Hu Jintao and the “Global Times” reporter showed that she smiled and waved and signed the children.
The 37-second video posted by Hu https://twitter.com/huxijin_gt/status/1462223089119338498?s=21 seems to show Peng standing in a row of people being introduced to the audience. The announcer said: “Two-time Grand Slam champion, former Women’s Doubles World No. 1-Peng Shuai!” She waved and smiled and accepted applause.
Global Times Chief Reporter Chen Qingqing posted a 31-second video https://twitter.com/qingqingparis/status/1462230482863542277, apparently from the same incident. Peng seems to have signed oversized tennis balls for the children and took photos with them.
Reuters was unable to independently verify the authenticity of these pictures, all thanks to Cui Meng, a Global Times staff member.
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