'Dangerous waters': Uproar over 'disturbing' detail in Peng Shuai video

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·Sports Reporter
·4-min read
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IOC call with Peng Shuai (pictured right) and (pictured left) Peng Shuai during the Australian Open.
Amnesty International have called out the IOC and expressed concern over Peng Shuai's (pictured left) situation in China. (Getty Images)

Amnesty International is the latest organisation to express concern over Peng Shuai's situation and has even called out the Olympic Committee for not doing enough during their first video chat with the tennis star.

Peng - whose disappearance after making sexual assault allegations against a powerful Chinese politician has created headlines around the world - spoke with International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach in a video call to assure him that she's OK.

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The 30-minute call came after Peng accused Zhang Gaoli, a former member of the Communist Party’s ruling Standing Committee, of sexually assaulting her.

Bach's video call was meant to allay fears over Peng's safety in China, after many previous photos and videos raised huge concerns they were staged.

However, further doubts have been raised over Bach's 30-minute chat with Peng as Human Rights group Amnesty International called out the IOC for failing to address the sexual assault allegations.

"The IOC is entering dangerous waters. They should be extremely careful not to participate in any whitewash of possible human rights violations," said Amnesty's China researcher Alkan Akad.

"In the past we have seen various similar cases where people had no option but to say what they had been told to."

The Chinese Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to an email request from Reuters on Monday for comment on the Amnesty statement.

Peng Shuai (pictured left) during a tennis match and Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli (pictured right).
Peng Shuai (pictured left) and Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli (pictured right). (Getty Images)

Akad doubled down on what many people around the world have already speculated, that the video does little to alleviate the fears of Peng's wellbeing.

Akad's view was similar to that of the Women's Tennis Association (WTA).

"The Chinese government has a track record, especially the state run media outlets of fabricating statements or making people give forced and sometimes televised testimonies shortly after people go missing," said Akad.

Human Rights' China Senior Researcher Yaqiu Wang slammed the IOC and said it didn't help the message coming out from Chinese authorities.

“This is just disturbing on another level,” she told The Sydney Morning Herald.

“The IOC is now actively playing a role in the Chinese government’s enforced disappearance, coercion and propaganda machinery."

International community slam Peng Shuai censorship

Following the video of Peng speaking to Bach, which was beamed around the world, another worrying image was revealed.

CNN broadcasted the images of Peng talking to Bach for their audience.

However, during a live cross to international correspondent Will Ripley, the broadcast showed the feed to China being switched to colour bars instead of what the rest of the world was seeing.

“I want to explain to our viewers what’s happening on our screen right now because underneath your (Ripley’s) face, they can see a box which is the actual live feed of this broadcast in China, but it’s all colour bars and it went to colour bars the minute you started talking," one anchor said.

CNN had its live TV segment about Peng Shuai censored by China.
CNN had its live TV segment about Peng Shuai censored by China. (Image: CNN)

Ripley replied: “Chinese censors, John. I have lost count over the last eight years here in Asia covering China how many times CNN’s coverage of controversial issues has been censored.

“It used to go straight to black, now they’ve upgraded and they go to colour bars.

"But nonetheless it is a live, real-time example of the censorship that’s happening in the mainland.

“They scrubbed Peng Shuai from the internet, they’re certainly not talking about this on television and even on international networks, they have an army of censors waiting to push that button the minute that we start talking about this story.”

with Reuters

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