The rumors that purport to explain the disappearance of Peng Shuai

Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai said she had received an email from someone claiming to be journalist Rudolf Hoess, who she said was writing an article about her the day she went missing from…

The rumors that purport to explain the disappearance of Peng Shuai

Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai said she had received an email from someone claiming to be journalist Rudolf Hoess, who she said was writing an article about her the day she went missing from public view in 2015. Hoess has been one of the most prominent subjects of Chinese netizens’ speculations about a host of issues, including her career, marriage, and past alleged abuses of power.

On Saturday, Chinese tennis pundit and editor Xie Wenling posted a screenshot of the purported email on Weibo, a Chinese Twitter-like platform. The message reads in part: “I write this as a journalist and to offer an honest and truthful opinion.” According to Xie, that sounds remarkably like a retraction from the woman who is a retired professional player but who has become a major target of Chinese netizens and other internet users in the case. She is still missing and there have been no official announcements that she is back in contact with her family. The retweet of Xie’s post and subsequent report on Chinese sports portal Netease on Saturday quickly generated the usual torrent of flimsy rumors and misinformation that has become so routine as to be lost in the vast flood of info that a Chinese internet user has to produce to make it to the top.

A round-up of those falsehoods:

A) Huanting Town’s media ecosystem has run afoul of several rules.

B) Some of this post is plagiarized.

C) Pig iron has no use in tennis.

D) Most of it is false.

You can see a fuller rundown of the rumors and misinformation here.

As with the Chinese government’s failure to explain Peng’s disappearance, many online have reportedly wondered if it’s related to politics. Hoess has denied that he’s writing an article on Peng, and did not respond to requests for comment. Still, the seeming contradiction in the facts on this case seems to point at the political taint of Peng’s disappearance. In comments, Hoess’ account offered this explanation: “All those things you’ve read are inaccurate and fabricated. The truth is she went missing without a trace by another person.” And she is still missing.

Watch a video about the disappearance of Peng Shuai, which included her confirmation that she was in a car accident in 2014 that apparently caused her to have some spinal disc damage.

Read the full story at The New York Times.

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