Chinese President Xi Jinping has become one of the top trending topics on Twitter amid unsubstantiated reports that he is under house arrest and 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 unverified rumors that the president was arrested and ousted by the People’s Liberation Army of China.
This speculation, which has not been discussed by reputable sources, came as hardly any commercial flights will fly over the capital Beijing on Saturday, and all trains and buses from Beijing will also be canceled, according to unconfirmed reports.
The Beijing Capital Airport website shows that several flights from the Chinese capital have been cancelled; but many others are still planned or have already landed. There were also reports that fighting was canceled during a planned military exercise.
A widely shared video posted to Twitter is also said to show a line of military vehicles up to 80 kilometers long moving towards Beijing amid reports of a Sept. 22 military coup.
However, the video is less than a minute long and therefore does not show whether the line of military vehicles extends 80 km. It’s not confirmed when or where the film was filmed, or that the convoy is heading to Beijing as part of a military coup.
The rumor was also fueled by Indian politician Subramanian Swamy, who tweeted his 10 million followers on Saturday: “New rumor to be verified: Is Xi Jingping [sic] Under house arrest in Beijing? When Xi was in Samarkand recently, Chinese Communist Party leaders should have removed Xi from leading the Party’s army. Then came house arrest. That’s the rumor.”
In a series of tweets, Drew Thompson, a former Defense Department official for China, Taiwan and Mongolia, called the rumors “complete untruth”.
“The rumor 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 longtime senior officials are creating a greenhouse atmosphere,” Thompson wrote.
“The open discussion of opposition to Xi makes the rumors plausible. Despite the lack of evidence that Xi faces internal opposition, speculation continues. This increases the plausibility of the rumor or hope for some that Xi will be arrested.”
Frida Ghitis, a world affairs columnist and former CNN correspondent, also dismissed the “wild rumours” from China.
“Social media is rife 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 Organization (SCO) leaders’ summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, where he held talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
news week has asked the Chinese Foreign Ministry for comment.
https://www.newsweek.com/xi-jinping-house-arrest-china-military-coup-rumors-1746014 Xi Jinping online trends amid coup rumors and canceled flights