Chinese diplomat claims tennis star Peng Shuai is too strong to have been sexually assaulted
A Chinese diplomat has cast doubt on the claims of missing Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai, saying it was unlikely the athlete was sexually assaulted by a high-ranking member of the Chinese Communist Party due to her physical strength and its size.
“She’s a very capable athlete and physically she can handle a lot of things better than a lot of other women in China,” Victor Gao, vice president of the Center for China and Globalization, told 60 Minutes Australia.
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“Given the maturity of her mind and the maturity of her physical condition, she can take care of herself and she can defend herself in front of any man or person in China,” Gao continued.
Gao’s comments come after Peng made an appearance at Winter Olympic Games and sat down for an interview with a French newspaper last week, prompting speculation among some that the Chinese government was still carefully controlling her public appearances.
“It’s impossible to say” whether the tennis star is free to do and say what she wants, French journalist Marc Ventouillac said after conducting the interview. “This interview does not prove that there is no problem with Peng Shuai.”
Concern for Peng’s wellbeing began after she posted a long message on social media in November accusing former Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli of forcing her to have sex, claiming that it had taken him years to bring the accusation against the powerful member of the Chinese Communist Party.
“Originally I buried it all in my heart,” she wrote in the post that was quickly deleted from China’s heavily censored internet. “Why would you even want to come find me, take me to your house and force you and me to have sex?”
Peng disappeared for several weeks after the post, only resurfacing in what appeared to be carefully choreographed appearances.
But Gao, who has been dubbed China’s ‘wolf warrior’, was apparently unmoved by the concern over the tennis star, saying her physical condition made an assault unlikely to take place.
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“Physically she’s very strong, she’s a very tall person…she’s taller than me,” Gao told 60 Minutes Australia. “So for someone my size… trying to take advantage of Peng Shuai, forget it. You’re indulging your fantasy.”
Gao also maintained that the alleged incident happened “years ago”, noting that Peng was not a minor when it allegedly took place.
“The incident reported on the internet didn’t happen just a week or a year ago, it happened several years ago,” Gao said. “Throughout this period she was a free person, there were no signs of harassment.”