The editor of a Communist Party newspaper posted a video online that he said shows missing tennis star Peng Shuai watching a match Sunday, as the ruling party tried to quell fears abroad while suppressing information in China about Peng after she accused a senior leader of sexual assault.
The video posted by Hu Xijin of the Global Times on Twitter, which cannot be seen by most internet users in China, shows Peng standing with five other people at what Hu said was a youth championship in Beijing. It followed Hu's statement Saturday on Twitter that Peng would “show up in public” soon.
It is the third clip published on that account, with the previous two purportedly showing Peng having dinner with her coach and friends in a restaurant.
The ruling party appears to be trying to defuse alarm about Peng without acknowledging her disappearance after the three-time Olympian accused Zhang Gaoli, a former member of the party's ruling Standing Committee, of forcing her to have sex.
Peng's disappearance and the government's silence in response to appeals for information prompted calls for a boycott of the Winter Olympics in Beijing in February, a prestige event for the Communist Party. The women's professional tour threatened to pull events out of China unless the safety of the former No. 1 doubles player was assured.
Discussion of Peng has been deleted from websites in China. A government spokesman on Friday denied knowing about the outcry. The ruling party's internet filters also block most people in China from seeing other social media abroad and most global news outlets.
Hu, whose newspaper is known for its nationalistic tone and who uses Twitter to criticize foreign governments, wrote Saturday that Peng "stayed in her own home freely" and would "show up in public and participate in some activities soon." Tennis stars and the Women's Tennis Association have been unusually vocal in demanding information about Peng. Companies and other sports groups are reluctant to confront Beijing for fear of losing access to the Chinese market or other retaliation.
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