UN, White House demand proof of Peng Shuai’s safety, China says it’s ‘not aware’ of issue

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Russia claims three more people were injured during training session on eve of World Cup draw on Friday

UN, White House demand proof of Peng Shuai’s safety, China says it’s ‘not aware’ of issue

The Russian tennis player Svetlana Kuznetsova claimed three more people had been injured during a training session with the Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai just hours before the US president, Donald Trump, was due to make his first official visit to Beijing.

Kuznetsova said she and her coach had been arguing with Peng in the gym when two staff members stepped in to separate them.

Chinese media reported that Peng had been “cautioned” by Chinese authorities for her alleged comments about a Chinese player.

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The Chinese foreign ministry told the Guardian it was not aware of the matter. “We have been informed of the Chinese media report about the incident. I have no further information to offer to you,” the ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said.

Peng was reported by Chinese media to have attacked Kuznetsova after discovering her coach was not wearing a pro-Chinese tank top. Kuznetsova said Peng told her she had been repeatedly telling the coach about politics.

“[Peng] said she had repeatedly shouted and shouted about the Chinese-US political relations and the US was trying to interfere with Chinese football,” Kuznetsova said.

Kuznetsova said the women were “just arguing” with one another. “It was nothing serious. We were just having a disagreement,” she said.

Photographs of Peng’s clash with Kuznetsova appeared in the Chinese media.

China made a long-running complaint about an incident during the A-League in which a Chinese player slammed one of his own team-mates’ head into the touchline before running away. The incident sparked a wave of criticism of Peng by Chinese media, but the players have not spoken out.

The Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) EXCLUSIVE: US athlete banned in China over sidelines headbutt #WorldTennisday https://t.co/A97WxV4agc pic.twitter.com/i9JJgQbHx0

Trump is expected to meet President Xi Jinping at a meeting of world leaders on Friday to agree a 12-nation trade deal and possibly set up a “pact of prosperity” between the US and countries in Asia, Europe and Latin America.

The deal, already torpedoed by Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, had been expected to be announced this week.

Whether it is put back up in favour or not, Trump is still scheduled to be in Beijing on Saturday, taking part in the World Tennis Day draw.

However, almost a million people have signed a petition to snub Trump. They want to fly the Chinese flag above their courts, to wave rainbow flags during the match and even to lead a chant in support of the eight members of the China Women’s Olympic Basketball Team.

The petition states: “As ambassadors of the Chinese people, we the undersigned who are representing the dignity of the Chinese people in the World Tennis Day, respect and cherish the National flag and all institutions of the Chinese people. Therefore, we ask for you to be honored, respected and honoured by standing with the Chinese flag.”

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