Amid coup rumors, Xi Jinping among 'elected' CPC Congress delegates
Rumors of a military coup in China deposing President Xi Jinping and putting him under house arrest led social media to delirium over the weekend. However, quashing the same, the ruling Communist Party of China on Sunday announced the list of 2,296 delegates—including Jinping—elected for its crucial National Congress next month. It's speculated the delegates would endorse the president for a record third term.
Why does this story matter?
- Amid speculations of Jinping—considered an autocrat—gaining unprecedented power in China, the recent rumors of a coup came as a surprise.
- The rumors sought to send out a message of tensions within the ruling party over Jinping's ascent to a third term.
- The speculations of a coup took off after New York-based journalist and activist Jennifer Zeng amplified unverified reports simmering on Twitter since Wednesday.
Delegates chosen based on Jinping's literature, party constitution
The 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC)—beginning on October 16—is significant, considering it is a "leadership change" year as Jinping completes the standard 10-year tenure. Delegates for the congress, held every five years, were elected in accordance with Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era—derived from Jinping's writings, speeches, and strategies—reported state media agency Xinhua.
A satirical Twitter thread used as 'source'
A sarcastic thread by @schorselysees on #ChinaCoup was picked up by 'India's most viewed English/Hindi News Channel' @republic @Republic_Bharat, The pics shared in the twitter thread were shown by the channel as 'Exclusive Pics'. That's the state of most TV News channels in India pic.twitter.com/06GFuZmSJ6— Mohammed Zubair (@zoo_bear) September 25, 2022
Fake graphics showed all flights canceled in China
Following Zeng's tweets, numerous fake reports on the Chinese coup flooded social media, which were picked up by some media groups assuming they were true. The rumors were fanned by fake graphics showing all flights were canceled in China, a video of a massive explosion in Beijing suggesting heavy fighting, and a video of a troop movement claimed to be headed to Zhongnanhai.
Most of 'unverified' reports were found to be fake
The graphics suggesting flight cancellations in China shared online were found to be fake by open source intelligence analysts, reported The Tribune. Flight-tracking websites, one of which was shown in the graphics, indicated that air traffic was normal over China. The explosion video was found to be from 2015 in Tianjin, while the video of the troop movement was found to be unrelated.
Jinping could be quarantined after SCO, house arrest unlikely: Experts
Chinese experts also dismissed rumors of Jinping being under house arrest. As he returned from the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Summit—organized in Uzbekistan—on September 16, he was likely placed under quarantine given China's strict "zero COVID-19" policy, reported Hindustan Times. Regarding reports of flight cancellations, air traffic in China hasn't returned to pre-pandemic levels, which could have led to the data reflecting fewer flights.
Jinping's crackdown on political opponents
Meanwhile, demonstrating his rising influence, Jinping is said to be taking down top security officials said to be part of a political clique against him. Three security officials were given suspended death sentences on corruption charges. It included former public security vice-minister Sun Lijun, accused of taking $91M-worth bribes, stock market manipulation, and illegal gun possession. Three ex-police officials also received lengthy jail terms.