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China hits out at 'malicious hyping up' of Peng Shuai case

China hits out at 'malicious hyping up' of Peng Shuai case
© Reuters
China condemns the 'malicious hyping up' of the controversy surrounding tennis player Peng Shuai, with the WTA still concerned about the 35-year-old's wellbeing.

China has hit out at the response to the case surrounding Peng Shuai, claiming that the controversy over the tennis player's safety has been "maliciously hyped up".

Shuai accused former vice premier Zhang Gaoli of sexual assault earlier this month and was not heard from for a few weeks, triggering widespread concern over her whereabouts.

The 35-year-old has since taken part in a video call with IOC president Thomas Bach, who reported that she appeared to be safe and well, but the WTA remains worried about her wellbeing.

China has since condemned the perceived maliciousness towards the case, with foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian telling reporters: "This is not a diplomatic matter.

"I believe you have all seen that she recently attended some public events and had a video call [with the president of the International Olympic Committee]. I think some people should stop deliberately and maliciously hyping [the issue] up, let alone politicise this issue."

Chinese state media initially released several photos and videos purportedly confirming Shuai's safety, but stars such as Serena Williams, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic have all expressed concern over the former doubles number one.

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Peng Shuai in action in January 2019
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