- A social media frenzy surrounding rumors of a China coup has erupted.
- Observers have questioned the reason behind the cancellation of over 9000 flights across China’s mainland in the past three days.
- An unverified video showing military vehicles outside Beijing added to the rumors.
Rumors surrounding a coup in China have emerged in the past 48 hours following the cancellation of 9000+ flights across China’s mainland. A video showing an 80 kilometer-long line of PLA military vehicles traveling outside of Beijing added to the speculations.
President Jinping’s Whereabouts
The Chinese President was last seen publicly in Samarkand, Uzbekistan where he took part in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Heads of State Summit. The Summit concluded on September 16. Days later, many China observers were struck by Xi’s absence at the China National Defense and Military Reform Seminar, and the prominence of Chinese People’s Liberation Army General, Li Qiaoming, in state media reports about the event. “Li Qiaoming, the former commander of the Northern Theater Command, who was previously dismissed and rumored to have participated in the mutiny, made a high-profile appearance and was photographed sitting in the front row of the meeting next to Liu Zhenli…” commented Chinese political commentators Liu Fangli. The General has since found himself at the center of the China coup rumors, with many on social media speculating he will succeed Xi.
Tracing the Origin of the Coup
One of the first mentions of the rumored China coup came from the mysterious Chinese-language, @5xyxh Twitter handle. The user tweeted the following( translated from Chinese)- “Xi visited Central Asia on the 14th, and Hu and Wen (Former President Hu Jintao and Former Premier Wen Jiabao) successfully persuaded Song Ping, the former member of the Standing Committee to remove Xi from military power. he original Standing Committee members removed his military power by a show of hands. When he found out, he returned to Beijing on the evening of the 16th, was controlled at the airport, and is now under house arrest at Zhongnanhai’s home…” Former Indian government minister and long-serving member of parliament, Subramanian Swamy also talked up the speculation, “New rumor to be checked out: Is Xi Jinping under house arrest in Beijing ? When Xi was in Samarkand recently, the leaders of the Chinese Communist Party were supposed to have removed Xi from the Party’s in-charge of the Army…”
A Question of Authenticity
Xi Jinping is more vulnerable than many think with the 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party under three weeks away. At the meeting he’ll seek re-election for a third term as President, something no Chinese President has done before. Xi is facing an increasingly angry middle class as the nation’s property sector collapses and residents grow more and more frustrated by China’s harsh COVID-zero strategy. However, the coup rumors surfacing in recent days have not been verified by any official source.
It is likely if Xi had successfully been put under house arrest the People’s Liberation Army would already have made an announcement. As for the flight, train and bus cancellations, the powerful Typhoon Muifa made landfall over China last week and many parts of eastern China are now faced with widespread flooding and badly damaged infrastructure. Even if this all is a series of convenient coincidences, the velocity of the China coup rumors raises the question, are there forces at play, domestic or foreign, attempting to amplify misinformation in order to destabilize the CCP, rattle Xi Jinping and embolden his opponents?
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