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SUNDAY, September 24, 2023

Rumours that President Xi arrested in coup 'fake news', says Thai expert on China

Rumours that President Xi arrested in coup 'fake news', says Thai expert on China
SUNDAY, September 25, 2022

A Thai expert on China affairs has dismissed reports that Chinese President Xi Jinping is under house arrest following a “silent coup”.

Assoc Prof Dr Aksornsri Phanishsarn, a Thammasat University lecturer on China’s economy and strategies, said reports and rumours of Xi’s arrest had no basis in fact.

“It’s fake news,” Aksornsri said on Sunday, adding that he had cross-checked with his contacts in China, who confirmed that the reports, which emerged in India, are false.

The Times of India reported on Sunday that social media was awash with speculation Xi had been deposed. The newspaper quoted social media speculation that a coup unfolded while Xi was abroad attending the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit in Uzbekistan.

The Times quoted “unverified posts on Twitter” as saying that Xi had left Samarkand before the official closing ceremony only to be placed under house arrest upon landing in Beijing on September 16. The Times also reported rumours that Xi had been stripped of authority over the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

It quoted Twitter posts claiming that Beijing airport had cancelled 6,000 international and domestic flights and that sale of train tickets had been suspended.

The report quoted News Highland Vision as saying that former Chinese president Hu Jintao and ex-PM Wen Jiabao, along with former Standing Committee member Song Ping now controlled the security bureau of the Chinese Communist Party.

It cited other tweets claiming PLA vehicles were moving towards Beijing on September 22, as well as posts of flight radar apps showing zero aircraft activity over Beijing.

However, the Times pointed out that international news outlets and the Chinese Foreign Ministry were silent on the rumours. Neither has the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported any news of a coup or political transition in China during the past 24 hours.

Meanwhile, the Chinese embassy in Bangkok informed Thai media that the rumours were untrue. Argentina’s embassy in Beijing also dismissed the reports in Indian media as fake news, according to the Phujadkarn website.

It added that Thai students in China have tweeted that the situation in the country remains normal. Phujadkarn quoted the students as saying that no flights were cancelled in China and the Internet was not cut. The Thai students reportedly expressed puzzlement at why media outside China were playing up coup rumours, adding that they had detected no irregular events.