FAKE NEWS | Peng Shuai to Check Into Exclusive Xinjiang Retreat

By Shaun Tan

By Shaun Tan

Founder, Editor-in-Chief, and Staff Writer


Peng Shuai, second from left, at the National Tennis Center in Beijing

BEIJING – Debunking rumors that she’s being detained against her will, Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai held a press conference today at the National Tennis Center in Beijing to announce that she is free and well, and that she plans to check into an exclusive retreat in Xinjiang next week.


“Hello everyone,” she said to the assembled reporters, “this is Peng Shuai. The date today is the 30th of November 2021. It is now 10 o’clock in the morning. The temperature is 2 degrees centigrade. It is sunny.”


After repeating the date and time three or four more times, Peng addressed what she called the “wild, unfounded allegations” that her freedom was being curtailed. “Please do not believe or spread such rumors,” she said. “I am not being coerced or compelled in any way. I have only the greatest trust in my country’s government and the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party.”


Peng said that she wanted to get out of the city for a while, and so would be checking into a “hyper-exclusive” retreat in Xinjiang.


“I’ve been under a lot of stress the past few years, and that’s sometimes made me do or say things I didn’t mean to,” she said. “I would like some privacy and some time to re-center myself, so I will be deleting my social media accounts and going off the grid for a while; don’t be surprised if you don’t hear from me for the next five years or so. Goodbye, everyone!”


Peng Shuai is one of China’s most famous tennis players and an Olympic athlete. On November 2nd, she wrote a scandalous post on Weibo alleging a sexual relationship with former Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli. Her post was widely shared before being scrubbed from the site some 30 minutes later, and even searches for her name were heavily restricted on Chinese sites. Shortly after, Peng herself disappeared from public view, leading to intense speculation that she was being detained by the state. Her apparent plight captured the attention of the world, with other tennis stars, the Women’s Tennis Association, and foreign governments demanding proof of her safety and whereabouts.


The International Olympic Committee, which has been under pressure to cancel the Winter Olympics, due to be held in Beijing next February, over this, immediately tweeted a message hailing the press conference as proof that Peng is not being imprisoned. “We’re glad to see Peng healthy and free,” it tweeted. “The retreat in Xinjiang sounds lovely!”


Hu Xijin, Editor-in-Chief of Chinese state media outlet Global Times, was also quick to weigh in, tweeting: “Hopefully this puts an end to malicious lies that Peng Shuai is being detained against her will. As a person who is familiar with Chinese system, take it from me: the retreat she’s going to is very nice.”


Asked by reporters at the press conference about the retreat in Xinjiang, Peng replied that it was a peaceful, secluded place with great security, popular with many Chinese celebrities.


“I’ll be in good company,” she said. “A lot of other prominent Chinese people are there too, including Jack Ma, Kris Wu, and that one guy who stood in front of the tank in Tiananmen Square.”


Asked about whether she still stood by her story about Zhang Gaoli, Peng seemed puzzled by the question.


“Who?” she said.