Beijing has described as ‘maliciously hyped up’ concerns expressed around the world about Chinese tennis Peng Shuai, who disappeared from the public eye for almost three weeks after making sexual assault allegations against China’s former vice premier.

She has since re-appeared, but questions remain over her wellbeing, according to the BBC.

Over the weekend, Peng had a video call with the head of the International Olympic Committee, after which a statement from the group said she had appeared safe and well. A state media journalist also posted a video clip he said was from Sunday, that showed her smiling and standing with officials at a tennis tournament.

Yesterday, China’s foreign ministry said it was ‘not a diplomatic matter’.

Spokesman Zhao Lijian said: ‘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,’ he was quoted as saying.

In a 1 600-word post on Chinese social media platform Weibo earlier this month, 35-year-old Peng said former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli had ‘forced’ her to have sexual relations with him.

Zhang has not responded to the allegations.

Concerns about Peng’s safety and wellbeing remain, according to the BBC.

The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) has said the recent videos ‘don’t alleviate or address… concern about her wellbeing and ability to communicate without censorship or coercion’.

[Image: Claude Truong-Ngoc / Wikimedia Commons,]