China accuses critics of trying to ‘maliciously hype up’ Peng Shuai saga

China has branded growing fears for Peng Shuai’s safety as “maliciously hyped” and accused its critics of trying to politicize the saga.

The country’s foreign ministry cited Peng’s recent video call with International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach as proof she was alive and well amid a major diplomatic row over his response to the tennis star’s claims that she was from his former Deputy PM sexually assaulted.

Ex-Wimbledon doubles champion Peng disappeared from public view for nearly three weeks after she posted a 1,600-word statement on Chinese social media platform Weibo claiming Zhang Gaoli had “forced” her to have sexual relations to have with him.

In its most direct response to the issue yet, China’s foreign ministry said Tuesday it was “not a diplomatic matter.”

“I think you all saw that she recently attended some public events and did a video call [with Bach]spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters.

“I think some people should stop intentionally and maliciously exaggerating, let alone politicizing this issue.”

The host country of next year’s Winter Olympics spoke out after Human Rights Watch (HRW) accused the IOC of being a puppet of the state, which failed to mention her allegations, following Bach’s 30-minute video call with three-time Olympian Peng against Zhang.

“The IOC has moved from being silent about Beijing’s miserable human rights record to actively working with the Chinese authorities to undermine freedom of expression and ignore allegations of sexual assault,” said Yaqiu Wang, HRW’s senior China researcher, on Monday evening.

“The IOC appears to be putting its relationship with a major human rights abuser ahead of the rights and safety of Olympic athletes.”

HRW also accused the Chinese authorities of continuing to impose a media and internet ban on discussions of Peng’s case, including by censoring her surname and mentions of tennis.

Lord Coe had previously argued that any form of boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics would be “a meaningless gesture” in the Peng case, while controversially claiming that the Nazi-run Berlin Games of 1936 were proof that sport was a “strong engine for integration and change”. .

Coe spoke out after Bach’s call to Peng was met with widespread skepticism amid growing pressure on sports governing bodies and governments to abandon their methods of “quiet diplomacy” and not send senior figures to the Beijing Games who could be into something more than two months start. China accuses critics of trying to ‘maliciously hype up’ Peng Shuai saga

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