Global Times Editor Says WTA “Forced” Peng With Tournament Suspension In China



SHANGHAI, Dec. 2 (Reuters) – The editor of the Chinese newspaper Global Times has accused the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) of “forcing” star player Peng Shuai to “support the West’s attack” on the China by suspending tournaments in the country until it is assured of its well-being.

Known for his combative tweets, Hu has been outspoken about the scandal involving Peng and his accusation of sexual assault by a former Chinese vice premier even as Beijing has remained largely silent and authorities blocked discussions on the subject on Internet in China.

The WTA on Wednesday announced the immediate suspension of all tournaments in China, citing concerns over the well-being of former world number one doubles number Peng and the safety of other players.

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“The WTA is forcing Peng Shuai to support the West’s attack on the Chinese system. It is depriving Peng Shuai of his freedom of expression, demanding that his description of his current situation meet their expectations,” he said. added. said on his official Twitter account in a post who cited the WTA ad.

The WTA did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Hu’s Twitter post, which is blocked in China.

The Global Times, a nationalist tabloid, is published by the People’s Daily of the ruling Communist Party.

Peng’s fate has become a matter of international concern after a public absence of nearly three weeks after posting a social media post in early November alleging that former Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli sexually assaulted her.

Neither Zhang, who retired in 2018, nor the Chinese government has commented on Peng’s claim.

China’s Peng Shuai in action during a first round match against Japan’s Nao Hibino at the Australian Open in Melbourne on January 21, 2020. REUTERS / Kim Hong-Ji // File Photo

Peng appeared in mid-November at a dinner with friends and a children’s tennis tournament in Beijing, photos and videos posted by Chinese state media and tournament organizers showed.

On November 21, IOC President Thomas Bach had a 30-minute video call with Peng, who has competed in three Olympics, in which she told him she was safe.

But WTA general manager Steve Simon, who said the decision to suspend tournaments in China had the full support of the WTA board of directors, said they were not convinced all was well. with Peng. In addition to seeking assurances about Peng’s well-being, the WTA has called for a “full and transparent investigation” into his charges against Zhang.

Hu, a prominent state media reporter, used Twitter to actively comment on the scandal and was one of the first to post pictures and videos of her appearances, serving as a de facto messenger to the outside world. Twitter is blocked in China.

He said those appearances by Peng should have been enough to alleviate or eliminate most of the player’s worries, but that people “were aimed at attacking the Chinese system and boycotting the Beijing Winter Olympics.”

China’s Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment, and appeals to the organizers of the China Open tournament went unanswered.

The ministry said late last month that “some people” should stop the “malicious hype” and “politicization” of the Peng issue.

Research on the topic of the WTA suspension yielded no results Thursday on Twitter-like Weibo, and at least one post seen by Reuters that criticized the WTA’s move was subsequently deleted.

The US-based tour’s decision to pull out of one of its biggest markets has been applauded by many tennis figures, but could cost the WTA hundreds of millions of dollars in broadcast revenue. and sponsorship.

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Reporting by Brenda Goh; Additional reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in the Mumbai and Shanghai newsrooms; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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