China leader trends online amid coup rumours, cancelled flights

    WORLD  26 September 2022 - 11:26

    Chinese President Xi Jinping became one of the top trending topics on Twitter amid unsubstantiated reports he is under house arrest and that China is in the midst of a military coup.

    Xi and the phrase #ChinaCoup trended on social media after tens of thousands of users spread unconfirmed rumours that the president was detained and overthrown by China's People's Liberation Army, Newsweek reports.

    This speculation, which any reputable sources have not discussed, arrived as there were hardly any commercial flights flying over the capital of Beijing on September 24, with unverified reports claiming all trains and buses are also being cancelled out of Beijing.

    Beijing Capital Airport's website does show that several flights out of China's capital have been cancelled but many others are still scheduled or already landed. There have also been reports the fights were cancelled amid a planned military exercise.

    A widely shared video posted on Twitter is also reported to show a line of military vehicles up to 80 kilometres long heading into Beijing amid reports of a military coup on September 22.

    However, the video is less than one minute long so does not show if the line of military vehicles stretches 80 km. It is not confirmed when or where it was filmed, or that the convoy is heading into Beijing as part of a military coup.

    The rumour was also fueled by Indian politician Subramanian Swamy, who tweeted to his 10 million followers on September 24: "New rumour to be checked out: Is Xi Jinping [sic] 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 Army. The house arrest followed. So goes the rumour."

    In a series of tweets, Drew Thompson, a former Department of Defence official for China, Taiwan and Mongolia, described the rumours as a "complete falsehood".

    "The rumour that Xi Jinping has been arrested has legs because it is such a sensitive political moment in China, and the recent trials (and convictions) of long-serving senior officials create a hothouse atmosphere," Thompson wrote.

    "Open discussion of opposition to Xi makes the rumours plausible. Despite the lack of evidence that Xi faces internal opposition, speculation persists. This enhances the plausibility of the rumour, or hope for some, that Xi gets arrested."

    Frida Ghitis, a world affairs columnist and former CNN correspondent, also dismissed the "wild rumours" coming out of China.

    "Social media buzzing with claims that there has been a coup in China, that Xi Jinping is under house arrest. But there is no evidence that this is true."

    President Xi was recently at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) leaders' summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, where he held talks with Russia's President Vladimir Putin.

    Caliber.Az




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