China calls for stop to 'malicious hyping' & politicisation of tennis star Peng Shuai

China says that Amnesty International holds "anti-China" views.

Zi Shan Kow | November 24, 2021, 04:14 PM

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China has addressed lingering concerns surrounding Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai, calling for an end to what they called "malicious hyping" and politicisation of the issue.

The three-time Olympian has been in international spotlight since she was censored after accusing a former top Communist Party leader of sexual assault on Nov. 2.

She then disappeared from the public eye, but has since emerged lately in certain public events in China, as seen from photos put out by Chinese state media journalists.

"Entering dangerous waters"

According to a statement by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Peng talked to Olympic officials via a 30-minute video call on Nov. 21, and said she was "safe and well" back home in Beijing.

However, IOC's statement was not enough to lift the international community's concerns regarding Peng's safety.

Amnesty International's China researcher Alkan Akad told Reuters the video call did not alleviate concerns about Peng's wellbeing and her "ability to communicate without censorship or coercion".

This was a sentiment that's echoed by the Women's Tennis Association (WTA).

"The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is entering dangerous waters," Akad said.

"In the past we have seen various similar cases where people had no option but to say what they had been told to," he added, in a reference to China's forced confessions that were broadcast on state TV.

"Not a diplomatic matter"

In response, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said that this is "not a diplomatic matter," reported the BBC.

He also added that the Amnesty held "anti-China" views during the regular press briefing on Nov. 23.

"I believe you have all seen that she recently attended some public events and had a video call [with the president of the International Olympic Committee]."

"I think some people should stop deliberately and maliciously hyping [the issue] up, let alone politicise this issue," Zhao stated.

A spokesperson from Amnesty International said the organisation works "independently and impartially on the basis of facts, and we hold all states to the same standards," reported Reuters.

As Beijing is getting ready to host the Winter Olympics in February 2022, there have been growing calls for the boycott of the Games over China's human rights record.

For the same reason, the U.S. is planning to stage a diplomatic boycott of the Games, according to The Guardian.


Peng took to Chinese social media site Weibo on Nov. 2 to accuse former vice premier Zhang Gaoli of coercing her to have sexual intercourse.

Her 1,600-word post was removed within minutes.

WTA said that officials and active players within its association were unable to reach Peng directly.

On Nov. 18, Chinese Global Television Network (CGTN) published a letter that was purportedly from Peng, claiming that she was "not missing" or "unsafe".

On Nov. 21, the same day she had the video call with the IOC members, Peng made an appearance at a youth tennis tournament in China.

A state media journalist posted a video clip on Twitter, showing Peng interacting with young children and signing tennis balls for them.

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Top image by Cui Meng/Global Times.