Late Saturday afternoon, rumors began to populate the internet that a coup was afoot in China which began based on travel data.
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Beijing Closed to Flights, Trains, and Buses
Flight cancellations abounded on Saturday, September 24, 2022 in and out of Beijing prompting questions about what was happening. Tracking site, FlightRadar24.com, showed limited activity throughout the afternoon (though it would have been late night Saturday, early morning Sunday flowed in.)
Social media accounts were atwitter with reports of trains and buses into and out of the capital city being canceled as well.
Something big happening in #China
No fly zone over China ❌✈️#chinacoup pic.twitter.com/cClKKXbNzR
— Rehan Ahmed ❤❤ (@rehan_ahmed92) September 24, 2022
Speculation grew that Chinese President, Xi Jinping had been on house arrest for some time (though he recently appeared at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation SCO summit alongside others including Russian Premier, Vladamir Putin.) The standing rumor was that top leadership in the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) had taken control of the city. Namely, Li Qiaoming, a senior Chinese military official had mobilized and would lead the country.
Images and video of military vehicles and personnel appeared on social media before they were quickly debunked as originally displayed in 2015. Another piece of the rumor purported to show an 80 km caravan of military vehicles but this has not been verified by date, location, or length.
Xi Jinping likely removed from Chairman of the Military Commission’s post under the shadow of a Military coup.
Xi is rumored to have undergone a military coup. #PLA special forces gathered at Shenyang Military airport under the orders of Li
— Nepal Correspondence (@NepCorres) September 23, 2022
President Xi is appointed as the leader of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and was suspected to receive a third term without a probable replacement in the complicated world of Chinese politics.
Other rumors suggested that the Iranian government, facing its own political turmoil this week, was the source of the rumors looking to distract from its own demonstrations.
Since last night I analyzed close to 2000+ accounts amplifying the hashtag #chinacoup. Despite this graph not being pretty enough given the large dataset, I figured out a bunch of accounts with significantly low followers that acted as the key disseminators of the rumor. pic.twitter.com/8PtfobJ6hk
— Atandra Ray (@atandra_ray) September 25, 2022
Difficult to Verify
Rumors such as these are difficult to verify generally, but in China where outside media is limited and communications scarce, it’s even harder to verify either that something is afoot or that it is decidedly not. The only major news site to carry news of the story was Newsweek tracking similar sources as this post.
Interestingly, despite trending on Twitter (which is unavailable to Chinese citizenry), the CCP has not made any public statement either confirming or denying the coup d’etat adding further to the mystery.
Based on the verifiable travel data (flight), it does seem odd that a significant portion of greater China was without traffic. It was late in the evening in China at the time, so it’s possible that nothing is afoot at all. It’s also possible that there is a disinformation campaign in progress either in a coordinated fashion or not. Regardless, rumors on social media alone are not enough to suggest that a coup has taken place, is in progress, or is even being planned. That said, it seems odd to me that the CCP wouldn’t simply make a statement or subvert the rumors by simply producing President Xi outside his home in response to the chatter.
What do you think? Is something afoot in China? Is this a disinformation campaign? Has travel data been used before to corroborate such allegations?
They’re due for another dynasty change aren’t they?
Nope. Xi King Ping is leader for life. May he live ten thousand years.
In spite of all of the evidence debunking the existence of a coup in China, if they keep saying there’s a coup, maybe people will believe it.
In spite of all of the evidence debunking the existence of widespread fraud in the 2020 election, if they keep saying there was, maybe people will believe it.
For a dictatorship by committee the Chinese people are surprisingly well taken care of. I wonder if the homeless people in the US care that they have a chance to vote, a vote that in most cases doesn’t matter. Or would they gladly give it up for comfort under a dictatorship.
You know there are homeless people in China, right? It just isn’t as in your face as in the USA.
Maybe instead of whining about the homeless problem in the US on this website, you actually do something useful by trying to help the homeless?
I pay too much in taxes already. That is the problem, My government is full of liberals. It has a massive tax surplus and it can’t/ won’t fix the homeless problem, because i think it doesn’t want to. They are corrupt. They are 2 faced posers. They tried to build up tiny homes for homeless and the solution came out to 1 million per homeless. A tiny home. They could buy a posh condo in Manhattan with that money. So are all celebrity liberals. Playing for camera. They make a big show of diversity but their own families are not diverse. I live in a democracy but my vote counts for nothing. I have as much ability to change the goverment in the US as some guy in china has in his country. We also have a dictatorship by committee. That committee changes every few years and gets elected by the swing vote. Rest of the country has no use for their votes.
Europe has no homeless people. One half of the US is full of christians and the other half is liberals. And the whole country is rich as f$ck. They conjured up trillions out of thin air in a matter of days in 2020 to throw money at already rich people. If they wanted to, they could solve this problem but they don’t want to. They are posers, evil, full of shit. And they hide all this behind some economic ideology called capitalism.
Land of the few rich and free and rest brainwashed wage slaves.
You are welcome to join other six and seven figure entrepreneurs and go where you are treated best. #Nomadcapitalist
Not to worry. Our woke CIA and State Department have their pronouns in order and are on top of it.
Sorry, David, you’re too late. Another silly troll already hijacked the thread before you could get your brilliant zinger in .
I travel to Europe monthly for business – Germany, France, Spain, UK, Greece, Italy etc.
They ALL have homeless folks/ day & night roaming the streets…
Above comment not factual.
To be honest, I would think that any statement by the CCP would just call attention to something being amiss or a afoot and could cause an already fraught relationship between citizenry and gvt to become even more fragile. So it makes total sense to me that there would be no announcement, particularly, as you say, most Chinese nationals won’t have a clue that there is online speculation about this. Not that I have the slightest clue what is actually going on or not going on in China.
As for the derailing comments on this, less said the better, but being a European living in a Western European capital I can tell you there are most certainly homeless people all over Europe. On the other hand, there are armies of citizen volunteers and NGOs that regularly go to feed them and cities tend to find some roofs to put over their heads especially in winter. Homelessness here usually comes from a place of addiction, people who don’t understand the local laws and languages or are illiterate (and before anyone starts, that has nothing to do with race and much more to do with the sheer variety of languages and lack of gvt translation into English, which most of those people would speak at least a little). For those who understand the local languages and are also open to receiving help, there are government schemes across Europe to help get people back on their feet. Also, unemployment or lack of income will very rarely lead to homelessness in Europe. We tend to have good safety nets for people who find themselves without income or savings, and that includes housing.