Peng Shuai reacts during her first round singles match against Nao Hibino at the Australian Open. File/AP
Missing tennis star Peng Shuai reappeared in public on Sunday at a youth tournament in Beijing, according to official photos published by the tournament organised by China Open.
According to photos released by the organiser, as the ruling Communist Party tried to quell fears abroad while suppressing information in China about Peng after she accused a senior leader of sexual assault.
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Peng can be seen among guests at the Fila Kids Junior Tennis Challenger Finals, dressed in a dark blue jacket and white trousers, according to the pictures published on the event's official WeChat page.
Videos posted by Hu and a Global Times reporter showed her smiling, waving and signing autographs for children.
Peng Shuai is seen having dinner with her coach and friends at a restaurant. Reuters
The 37-second video https://twitter.com/huxijin_gt/status/1462223089119338498?s=21 Hu posted appears to show Peng standing in a row of people being introduced to the audience.
An announcer says, "Two-time Grand Slam champion, former world number one in woman's doubles — Peng Shuai!" She waves, smiling, and acknowledges applause.
Global Times chief reporter Chen Qingqing posted a 31-second video https://twitter.com/qingqingparis/status/1462230482863542277, apparently from the same event. Peng appears to sign oversized tennis balls for children and pose with them for pictures.
The appearance followed an announcement by the editor of a party newspaper Saturday on Twitter, which can't be seen by most internet users in China, that the three-time Olympian would "show up in public” soon.
Peng Shuai hits a return against Sloane Stephens during singles at The All England Lawn Tennis Club. AFP
World tennis bodies have expressed concern, with the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) threatening to pull tournaments out of China. The United States and Britain have called for evidence of Peng's whereabouts and safety.
The WTA and the US and British embassies in Beijing did not immediately respond to Reuters requests for comment on Peng's Sunday appearance in the Chinese capital.
Peng adds to a growing number of Chinese businesspeople, activists and ordinary people who have disappeared in recent years after criticising party figures or in crackdowns on corruption or pro-democracy and labor rights campaigns.
Some re-emerge weeks or months later without explanation, suggesting they are warned not to disclose they were detained or the reason.
The editor of the party newspaper Global Times, Hu Xijin, wrote Saturday on Twitter that Peng "stayed in her own home freely” and would "show up in public and participate in some activities soon.”
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