A social media frenzy surrounding rumors of a coup in China has erupted over the past 48 hours.
Observers have questioned the reason for the cancellation of more than 9,000 flights across mainland China in the past three days, as well as the suspension of bus and train services around Beijing.
Adding to the speculation is an unverified video of an 80 kilometer line of military vehicles traveling outside Beijing.
Where is Xi Jinping?
The Chinese president was last seen publicly in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, where he attended the Shanghai Cooperation Organization heads of state summit. The following image taken when he arrived in Samarkand on September 14 was shared by the Chinese Foreign Ministry.
The summit ended on September 16.
Days later, many Chinese observers were struck by Xi’s absence from China’s National Defense and Military Reform Seminar, and the notoriety of Chinese People’s Liberation Army General Li Qiaoming. , in state media reporting on the event.
“Li Qiaoming, the former commander of the Northern Theater Command, who had already been fired and who was rumored to have participated in the mutiny, made a highly publicized appearance and was photographed sitting in the front row of the meeting at side of Liu Zhenli, the commander of the Chinese Communist army,” commented on Chinese policythe commentators Liu Fangli and Liang Xin.
The general has since found himself at the center of coup rumors in China, with many social media speculating that he will succeed Xi.
Origins of Coup Speculation in China
One of the first mentions of the rumored coup in China came from the mysterious Chinese-language Twitter account @5xyxh. The Twitter user, who has over 70,000 followers, says in his biography, “It is my responsibility to study and protect the country.”
The user tweeted the following on September 22 (translated from Chinese).
“Xi visited Central Asia on the 14th, and Hu and Wen (former President Hu Jintao and former Premier Wen Jiabao) managed to persuade Song Ping, the former Standing Committee member, to withdraw Xi of military power. Jiang Zeng and Beijing Central Committee members were informed on a single line. The original members of the Standing Committee stripped him of his military power by a show of hands. When he found out, he returned to Beijing on the evening of the 16th, was checked at the airport, and is now under house arrest at Zhongnanhai’s home. The real story will be announced at the Seventh Plenary Session of the 19th Central Committee. Unable to verify.
Former Indian government minister and longtime MP Subramanian Swamy also spoke about the speculation.
“New rumor to check: Is Xi Jinping under house arrest in Beijing? When Xi was in Samarkand recently, Chinese Communist Party leaders were said to have pushed Xi out of the parties in charge of the military. Then house arrest followed. So goes the rumor, ” he said.
Could there be any truth to the rumours?
As Asia Markets has previously pointed out, Xi Jinping is more vulnerable than many realize with the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China less than three weeks away. At the meeting, he will seek re-election for a third term as president – something no Chinese president has done before.
Xi faces an increasingly angry middle class as the country’s property sector plummets and residents grow increasingly frustrated with China’s harsh COVID-zero strategy.
Along with this, many in China were angry at Xi’s seemingly mild reaction to Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.
The coup rumors that have surfaced in recent days have not been verified by any official source.
It’s likely that if Xi had been successfully placed under house arrest, the People’s Liberation Army would have already made an announcement and, as one mainland-based commentator told Asia Markets, “at the very least, we would have been in a situation of communications and the Internet”. blackout from the moment Xi was arrested.
In terms of flight, train and bus cancellations, powerful Typhoon Muifa made landfall in China last week and many parts of eastern China are now facing widespread flooding and severely damaged infrastructure. damaged.
However, there has been no official explanation.
“There’s been a lot of smoke, it says there’s a fire somewhere, we don’t believe there was a coup, but at this point there have been some extremely disturbing developments at the top of the Communist Party as well as the top of the People’s Liberation Army that reports to the Party, so something is seriously wrong,” Gordon Chang, author and former US government adviser on China, told Newsmax.
Even if it’s all just a series of convenient coincidences, the speed of coup rumors in China begs the question, are there forces at play, domestic or foreign, trying to amplify the disinformation in order to destabilize the CCP, undermine Xi Jinping and embolden his opponents? ?
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