Chinese state media is responding to international pressure about tennis star Peng Shuai with videos of her appearing in public places, but suspicious details still remain, according to reports.
Over the weekend, Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of Chinese state media Global Times, had been posting videos and images of Peng Shuai online to confirm that she was safe.
The footage showed she had a meal with her friends and coach at a restaurant on Friday, then on Sunday she attended a teenager tennis event and was seen signing balls for children. Shuai herself did not personally make any updates on social media.
However, according to Sky News reporters who went to the restaurant to inspect the authenticity of the Friday footage, at least one employee refused to confirm if she had seen Shuai in person, noting that she was too busy to pay attention.
“Yes. She has been here for meal. Yes, it’s our restaurant,” a waitress told the news agency, adding that she did not directly see Shuai as “yesterday I was busy with my work here. I didn’t see her. But she had a meal in our restaurant.”
A similar attitude was repeated in staff at the stadium when the Sky News reporters visited the destination on the afternoon of the purported day Shuai was there.
“When we slip into the stadium in the early afternoon, there’s no sign of her,” the outlet wrote, adding that they were quickly rushed out of the property while the employee bluntly said “yes, I saw her. But you can’t be here, sorry.”
When Chinese state media released the footage, the Women’s Tennis Association was in high doubtful that they provided enough clues about Shuai’s current situation.
“While it is positive to see her, it remains unclear if she is free and able to make decisions and take actions on her own, without coercion or external interference,” the group said in a statement, as Fox News reported. “This video alone is insufficient.”
Since the WTA was unconvinced, they maintained that they would pull the tournament out of China without clearer confirmation.
“Consistent with what Steve Simon stated yesterday, the photos and video remain insufficient. They do not address WTA’s concerns,” a WTA spokesperson told the right-wing outlet Sunday.
The restaurant footage of Peng Shuai alone was filled with suspicious details. According to Fox News, it was evident that the people in the video, including Peng’s coach and a female attendee, had been emphasizing the date of the event.
“Tomorrow, isn’t tomorrow November 20?” The coach asked, where the woman confirmed the date would be “November 21st.”
Another video featured Peng entering the restaurant with the date boldly displayed on the entrance, but the actual date was strangely blurred off.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced on Sunday that they had been able to talk with Shuai in person via video call.
The group released no physical footage of the conversation but only a picture of the president of the group, Thomas Branch, talking to an image of Shuai smiling in her room. The IOC claimed Shuai said she was asking for privacy and was wanting to spend her time with close friends and family only.
The IOC, although is an international organization, has been condemned by human rights groups for letting the 2022 Winter Olympics be hosted in Beijing despite constant calls of boycott.
The WTA had not responded to the IOC call with Shuai.
Shuai’s safety is under close international scrutiny as she came out on Nov. 2 against China’s former vice-premier Zhang Gaoli for sexually assaulting her.
The Chinese Communist regime is notorious for heavily censoring sensitive topics and using harsh measures to protect the image of its top officials.