Kolkata: A coup in China? Social media has been abuzz since many hours today with the hot news that President Xi Jinping has been put under house arrest by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in Beijing.
If true, who are the players involved and what were the immediate or long-term reasons? If untrue, what are the real facts on the ground?
The entire coup news story seems clouded in mystery, and no credible international media source, inside or outside China, has been able to verify the news. Surprisingly, despite the buzz and the negative fall-out of this big news/rumour, there has been no official denial from the Chinese government or its various media outlets. China, as is the usual norm, be it the contentious issue of Taiwan, or human rights violations in Xinjiang of the Uighurs, or be it any international issue where its name has been dragged, is quick to issue a strong clarification, denial or condemnation, reasserting its domestic and foreign policy doctrines. In this case, surprisingly, there has been total silence, thereby allowing rumours and speculations to fly all over social media and in media circles.
The message spread in India, from Twitter to Facebook and WhatsApp. It reportedly had only two sources — two Chinese individuals. One is in Chinese, while the other is in English — but both are unverified Twitter accounts and both show that they are based in the USA, not China. That casts a question mark on the news in the first instance.
The first message is apparently from one Zhao Lanjian, who tweeted about the mass cancellation of flights from China, and linked to a possible coup. Since then the mass cancellation of flights story has been trending. Another tweet from one Jennifer Zeng was more newsworthy; she shared a video of vehicle movement and claimed that PLA military vehicles were heading towards Beijing in a huge and long convoy. The convoy story, indeed, has been repeated again and again, some claiming it to be 80 km long, led by the PLA, and moving towards Beijing earlier.
eNewsroom, independently, could not verify the tweets, though it did contact media sources in Beijing and Shanghai, with no response from them,
Senior BJP leader Subramaniam Swamy and Congress’ Abhisehk Singvi too tweeted about these unfolding rumours, though, they too don’t seem to have any clue about the issues on the ground.
There have been hidden and nuanced internal party issues in the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and Xi Jinping has been allegedly facing challenges within the party. He has been apparently waging an all-out war against corruption, redefining the ‘Chinese characteristics of socialism’, as well as capitalism, and going after the super rich and tycoons, while creating a cult figure like image about himself with a huge propaganda machinery. An all powerful president, he was tipped to be elected the third time in the coming weeks, with speculation that he might become a president for life. He was last seen in Shanghai in the SCO meet with other world leaders. There are unconfirmed speculations that the alleged coup was being planned at that time, though there is no evidence to prove this either.
On Friday, Sun Lijun, former vice minister of public security, and another former minister, was sentenced to death. Two other officials were given life imprisonment. Sun was accused of massive corruption of nearly $100 million in bribes over two decades, as well as the more serious charge of ‘endangering political security, a possible reference to challenging the power of Xi.
Considering that this is indeed big breaking news, no International news organizations, like BBC or CNN have reported about it, nor the New York Times or the London Guardian, among others.
Significantly, Jennifer, in a later tweet, mentioned that this news is actually a rumour.
However, understanding the seriousness of the matter, eNewsroom has sent emails to China Daily editors in Beijing to confirm the tweets, that is,, if it is just a rumour or if there is some truth behind it. However, there has been no response, as of now.
We hope to update our readers if there is any significant development on this issue. As of now, it seems pure speculation and rumour.