What Experts Say About Social Media Buzz On Xi Jinping ‘House Arrest’ In China

The social media has been abuzz with rumours that Chinese President Xi Jinping has been put under house arrest as part of an alleged military coup by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). While there has been no official word on this from the ruling Chinese Communist Party or the state media, several experts have ruled out any such possibility.

The rumours come close on the heels of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit that concluded in Uzbekistan last week. The Chinese premier attended the summit where he met several world leaders, including Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and held talks with some of them. This was the first time Xi and Modi came face to face since the 2020 border clashes that disrupted ties between India and China.

On Saturday, several Twitter users shared posts about a possible “coup” by the PLA, with some claiming Xi was put under house arrest soon after he returned from the SCO Summit. Some users also cited large-scale flight cancellations and claimed that PLA vehicles were moving towards capital Beijing.

“#PLA military vehicles heading to #Beijing on Sep 22. Starting from Huanlai County near Beijing & ending in Zhangjiakou City, Hebei Province, entire procession as long as 80 KM. Meanwhile, rumor has it that #XiJinping was under arrest after #CCP seniors removed him as head of PLA (sic),” posted a Twitter user Jennifer Zeng.

“This video of military vehicles moving to Beijing comes immediately after the grounding of 59 per cent of the flights in the country and the jailings of senior officials. There’s a lot of smoke, which means there is a fire somewhere inside the CCP. China is unstable,” author Gordon G Chang posted as he quote-tweeted the Jennifer Zeng post.

Several unverified reports also said there were no commercial flights flying over Beijing on Saturday, claiming to show real-time footage from radar apps.

The rumours have surfaced ahead of the Chinese Communist Party’s 20th National Congress that is scheduled to take place October 16. At the CCP session, Xi is expected to secure power once again — for his third term of five years. 

What Experts Are Saying

Taking to Twitter, several China experts said there was no sign of a coup yet, and that everything being said on social media are just rumours.

“Xi is most likely in quarantine after coming back from SCO. There is no coup. Looks like a lot of alt-media in India picked up the rumour,” Aadil Brar, an expert on China, posted on Twitter.

He also sought to debunk the flight cancellation theory.   

“Rumours about coup in China appear to be just that—rumours,” posted National Security Analyst Nitin A Gokhale. 

Author Gordon Chang tweeted: “The lack of news from #China over the last few hours suggests coup rumors are untrue, but whatever happened inside the #Chinese military during the last three days—evidently something unusual occurred—tells us there is turbulence inside the senior #CCP leadership.”

The rumours are also coming after two former China ministers were handed out a death sentence and four other officials were sentenced to a life term earlier this week. All six are believed to be part of a particular ‘political faction’.