On Saturday, a major conference on national defence and military reform was held in Beijing, and it was reported that close to 10,000 flights were cancelled, which fueled the rumours of Xi’s arrest and a possible Chinese coup.
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Over the past 48 hours, the Chinese rumour mill has spiralled out of control. For those who are unaware of the rumours, Xi was purportedly ousted in a coup prior to the Party Congress in October.
On Twitter, one of the top trending topics by September 24 was Xi Jinping. More than 42,000 times his name was hashtagged, and 9,300 times the word “China coup” was used on the platform.
“New rumour to be checked out: Is Xi jingping [sic] under house arrest in Beijing?” wrote Subramanian Swamy, a former Indian cabinet minister and parliamentary member until April.
These rumours also surfaced when Chinese nationals reported allegedly widespread flight disruptions. On Saturday, a major conference on national defence and military reform was held in Beijing, and it was reported that close to 10,000 flights were cancelled.
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Xi, who met with Vladimir Putin at a regional summit in Central Asia and returned to Beijing on September 16 as a result, was absent from the Beijing meeting but communicated orders that the armed services should concentrate on war preparation. Wei Fenghe, his hand-selected Chinese military general who is currently the nation’s minister of defense, was also absent.
These are the rumours, even if most of them lack supporting information. Here are some actual data from Beijing, courtesy of Georg Fahrion, a correspondent for Der Spiegel.
According to China analyst Gordon Chang, a coup is not likely because there isn’t any concrete proof of it yet.
“I don’t think there was a coup,” he told The Epoch Times. “Because if there were a coup, we would see, for instance, a lot of military vehicles in the center of Beijing. There have been no reports of that. Also, there probably would be a declaration of martial law that has not occurred.”
“So it seems that something is happening, but we don’t know exactly what,” he said, adding that the only thing that can dispel some of the speculations is if Xi comes out to speak in public.
Similar to other writers, Zhang Tianliang, the author of the Chinese book “China’s Path to Peaceful Transition,” rejected the home arrest theory as defying logic.
Six senior Chinese officials, including two former cabinet-level officials, received harsh sentences for corruption-related offences over the course of the past week, adding to the long list of officials purged as part of Xi’s anti-corruption campaign, which he started after assuming office in late 2012.
In his broadcast on September 22, Zhang stated that if Xi had lost control of the situation, how would he be able to punish them.
Finally, Bill Bishop of Sinocism provides some additional insight.
It’s CPC elite politics so never say never but I think this round of rumors is BS.
The rumor was originally hyped by an account with a track record of making bogus claims, and in the frenzied amplification no one has presented any credible sourcing or evidence, just lots of wishful thinking.
Today Xinhua announced the full delegate list for the 20th Party Congress and the statement about the selection, also read out on the Sunday CCTV Evening News, opens with the line “Under the strong leadership of the Party Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as the core”
And Xi of course is one of the delegates:
Massive plane cancellations were also mentioned in the rumour as a sign that something was amiss. These claims proven to be false.
Since Xi may not be seen for some time, this and possibly other tales may be spread as a result of his “disappearance.”
However, Wang He, a China-related analyst residing in the United States, noted that Xi’s prolonged departure from the public eye hasn’t been unprecedented. He concluded that whether or not Xi makes a public appearance is of little relevance. Before the Party congress, Wang saw Xi’s overseas trip as a show of confidence.
He observed of Xi, “Without absolute assurance, this man will not take risks easily.”