China says ‘not aware’ of tennis player Peng Shuai’s case

China says ‘not aware’ of tennis player Peng Shuai’s case

Beijing China’s Foreign Ministry said on Friday it was unaware of the controversy surrounding professional tennis player Peng Shuai, who went missing after a former top official was accused of sexual assault.

“It is not a diplomatic issue and I am not aware of the situation,” ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters.

The department has consistently denied knowledge of the issue since it emerged as a major global story earlier this week.

The 35-year-old is a former top-ranked player in women’s doubles who won titles at Wimbledon in 2013 and the French Open in 2014. She has also competed in three Olympics, making her disappearance even more prominent as Beijing prepares to host the tournament. The Winter Games begin on February 4th.

Ping wrote in a lengthy social media post on November 2 that she was forced to have sex despite repeated refusals three years ago with Zhang Gaoli, a former deputy prime minister and a member of the Standing Committee of the ruling Communist Party’s Politburo.

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The post was quickly deleted from her verified account on Weibo, a leading Chinese social media platform, but screenshots of the explosive accusation quickly spread online in China.

Steve Simon, chairman and chief executive of the Women’s Tennis Association, questioned the authenticity of what Chinese state media said was an email addressed to him that Ping said was safe and that the assault allegations were untrue. It was published Thursday by CGTN, the international arm of China’s state broadcaster CCTV.

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