Peng Shuai speaks to a journalist who has doubts.
BEIJING (AP), -- Peng Shuai, the Chinese tennis star, said Tuesday that she did not respond to questions regarding whether or not she could speak her mind.
Peng disappeared for several weeks from the public eye after making public accusations that she was forced to have sex by a top-ranking Communist Party official. Peng's social media post was quickly deleted. She was then only seen in photo opportunities organized by Chinese officials. Fears about her safety led to an outpouring worldwide concern.
Marc Ventouillac is one of two French journalists for L'Equipe that spoke with Peng Shuai this week in a restricted interview. He said that he was not able to answer any questions about Peng's ability to speak or move freely.
Peng disappeared for several weeks from the public eye after making public accusations that she was forced to have sex by a top-ranking Communist Party official. Peng's social media post was quickly deleted. She was then only seen in photo opportunities organized by Chinese officials. Fears about her led worldwide panic.
Marc Ventouillac is one of two French journalists who spoke with Peng in this interview. He said that he was unsure if Peng is free.
Ventouillac claims China's intention was obvious to him: China officials granted the interview to Ventouillac as Beijing hosts the Winter Olympics. This is to ensure that the controversy doesn't become a distraction from the event.
Ventouillac said that it was a part communication, or propaganda from the Chinese Olympic Committee, to The Associated Press Tuesday, one day after L'Equipe published their exclusive.
Ventouillac stated that Chinese officials wanted the interview to show that "there is no problem Peng Shuai." See?"
Peng's interview with Thomas Bach, President of the International Olympic Committee, and a dinner Peng shared with him at his home and appearances at Olympic venues put a spotlight on the three-time Olympian who was also a former top-ranked doubles player. Peng watched Eileen Gu, an American-born freestyle skier, win gold in the women's big aerial event on Tuesday.
The goal is, logically speaking, to answer the question that fans and players around the globe have been asking: Where is Peng Shuai?"
Ventouillac stated, "It's very important, I believe, for both the Chinese Olympic Committee and the Communist Party, to try to show that there is no Peng Shuai matter,"
According to the women's tennis professional tour, the interview "doesn't alleviate any concerns" regarding the November allegations.
"Peng made a bold statement by publicly claiming that she was sexually assaulted in China," Steve Simon, chief executive of the WTA, stated in a statement. As we would with any other player globally, we called for an official investigation by the relevant authorities into the allegations and for Peng to be able to meet privately with the WTA to discuss her situation.
Ventouillac stated that Peng appears to be in good health.
L'Equipe, a member of China's Olympic Committee, agreed to submit questions ahead of time and publish her answers verbatim in question-and answer form. Ventouillac stated that they were originally given a half hour but ended up with nearly twice that amount and asked as many questions as they wanted.
He said, "There was no censorship of the questions."
Peng's comments were translated from Chinese by a Chinese Olympic official who sat in the room. To ensure that the newspaper's comments were accurate, it used a Paris interpreter. The newspaper published the French version of Peng's comments on Monday. This was her first time interacting with media other than Chinese-language media since the accusation.
"She answered all our questions quickly and without hesitation -- I'm sure she knew the answers. Ventouillac stated that she knew exactly what she was going on to say. "But it's impossible to know if it was formatted." "She said exactly what we expected."
"We started with asking questions about tennis... He said that it helped her relax and unwind.
Ventouillac stated that she was more nervous and cautious when being asked about the job and her relationship to the official.
Ventouillac stated that L'Equipe's goal for the interview was to show Peng "she's not alone" that people all over the globe are concerned about her welfare.
He believes international support has protected her during the scandal. Ventouillac speculated that someone not as well-known outside China would likely be in prison for making such an allegation against senior officials.
Peng posted a long post in November stating that Zhang Gaoli (an ex-vice premier and member the all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee of the Chinese Communist Party) forced her to have sex despite repeatedly refusing. On her Weibo verified account, Peng also stated that they had sex seven years ago and that she began to feel romantic feelings for him. Zhang has not yet commented on the allegation.
She wrote, "Originally, all of this was buried in my heart." "Why would you come to me again? Take me to your home and force me to have sexual relations with you?"
It was quickly removed from her account. Peng said to L'Equipe she had erased it, but did not give any reasons other than "Because of my desire to."
She also stated that the post was misunderstood.
"Sexual assault? "Sexual assault": She said she never claimed that anyone forced her to undergo a sexual assault.
She also stated that "this post caused an enormous misunderstanding from outside the world." "My wish is for the meaning of this message to not be misunderstood."