CNN called out China for censoring its live broadcast covering tennis star Peng Shuai’s sexual assault allegations and uncertainty over her safety.
After Taiwan-based correspondent Will Ripley reported on CNN’s “New Day” about the latest developments surrounding Peng on Monday, correspondent John Berman shifted the segment’s focus to the Chinese feed of the broadcast itself.
“Underneath your face, [viewers] can see a box which is the actual live feed of this broadcast in China. But it’s all color bars,” Berman told Ripley. “And it went to color bars the minute you started talking. So what’s going on here?”
Ripley explained that the colored bars were a result of Chinese censors, who cut the broadcast the moment the network started discussing Peng. “I have lost count over the last eight years here in Asia covering China of how many times CNN’s coverage of controversial issues has been censored,” Ripley said.
“They scrubbed Peng Shuai from the internet,” he added. “They’re certainly not talking about this on television. And even international networks. They have an army of censors waiting to push that button the minute that we start talking about this story.”
Peng accused former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli of sexual assault in a post on Weibo, which was quickly taken down. After Peng went days without a public appearance, Chinese state media released an email it claimed was from the tennis player, allegedly assuring that she was safe and calling her allegations “not true.”
Almost three weeks after her disappearance, Peng appeared on a video call with officials from the International Olympic Committee during which she reportedly thanked them for their concern and asked for privacy, the AP reported. Yaqiu Wang, a spokeswoman for Human Rights Watch, tweeted that the IOC was “actively playing a role in the Chinese government’s enforced disappearance, coercion and propaganda machinery.”
“The pressure is still mounting on Beijing from the outside because of the efforts of journalists around the world, and also diplomats, wanting Peng Shuai to be able to speak her truth,” Ripley said Monday.
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