In the last few days, many rumours on social media claimed that there had been an attempt at a military coup in China and that President Xi Jinping was under house arrest. The alarming, yet unsubstantiated, assertions attempted to portray a chaotic China and a sharp change in politics, which was a farce.
According to WION’s analysis of the viral news, the claims were made without any support and were only spread by unauthorised social media accounts. With the hashtag #ChinaCoup strongly trending on Twitter, it is probably a dinner prepared on Twitter and served with extra salt and pepper by the Twitterati.
When Did It First Begin?
The rumours first surfaced only a few days after top security officers in China were sentenced to prison for corruption. Sun Lijun, a former deputy minister of public safety, Fu Zhenghua, a former minister of justice, and the former police chiefs of Shanghai, Chongqing, and Shanxi were all imprisoned.
Social media went crazy over the claims after several of the biggest news outlets, including those in India,That was reported as “exclusive news.” But speculation has now ceased ahead of a crucial Communist party gathering in China next month, when Xi is anticipated to be given a historic third term.
According to reports, Xi is anticipated to be reappointed as the party’s and the military commission’s leader at the once-every-five-years gathering. State media released the list of Chinese Communist Party (CCP) central committee delegates for the party congress on Sunday.
Where Did It Begin?
It all began when false information was shared on social media along with videos of military vehicles without citing any sources. Following the alleged “grounding of 59% of the country’s aircraft and the jailing of prominent leaders,” several people circulated films purporting to show military vehicles travelling to Beijing. It demonstrated a coup-like circumstance.
A Twitter user using by the handle New Highland Vision claimed that Song Ping, a former member of the Politburo Standing Committee, was convinced to assume control of the Central Guard Bureau (CGB) from Xi by former Chinese president Hu Jintao and former premier Wen Jiabao. It was tweeted on September 22. There are nearly 20,000 followers on the account. When some stated that a few flights into and out of Beijing, as well as some trains and buses, had been cancelled, the rumours gained more momentum.
There was no particular mention of the coup rumours on Chinese social media. Over the weekend, more than 200,000 people viewed a Weibo hashtag connected to “airports around the country postpone flights.” Notably, flights were cancelled as the number of Covid cases increased in the nation.
What Is The Reality?
A coup in China wasn’t completely improbable, according to Drew Thompson, a scholar at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. Although Thompson claimed that Xi has allegedly expressed worry about the possibility in the before, the weekend’s rumours appeared to be more “wishful thinking.” They looked to have their roots in Falun Gong-related accounts, which Thompson deemed to be “basically not believable.”
Because of the sensitive political climate in China and the recent trials (and convictions) of long-serving senior officials, he said on Twitter that “the rumour that Xi Jinping has been arrested has legs.” Other analysts, including Bill Bishop, author of Sinocism, claimed they believed the rumours to be false but that their propagation was easily facilitated by the “inherent opacity” of CCP systems.
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The Absence Of Xi Fueled Rumours.
Since his return to China from the SCO Summit in Uzbekistan, the Chinese president has not been seen in the media. Due to the terrible Covid situation in China, some claim he may be confined. Certainly not what it means a military coup has occurred. The fact that this rumour has spread so far and was deemed credible enough to analyse is, in my opinion, a reflection of a fundamental problem with the Chinese administration, Thompson added.
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Social Media’s Function
It also raises the issue of whether or not the general public ought to accept the information provided by social media. As in this instance, the “China coup” rumours may have resulted in problems with national security as well as a condition of turmoil and instability.
Since the false tweets are still active and the rumours were spread over a period of days, the role of social media in the case has also been called into doubt. What steps are tech juggernauts taking to stop the dissemination of this false information?
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