Highlights

  • Latest visuals from China's capital Beijing amid coup rumours
  • Viral claims on social media said Xi Jinping overthrown, under house arrest
  • Journalist working for Der Spiegel took photos of situation in Beijing

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China: see latest pics from Beijing amid coup rumours, Xi Jinping house arrest claims

Rumours rife on social media included claims that Chinese President Xi Jinping had been dethroned by the military, and removed as head of the armed forces before being placed under house arrest.

As rumours swirl of China's President Xi Jinping being overthrown in a silent military coup, what do scenes from national capital Beijing show?

For a few days now, social media has been buzzing with speculation of three major developments in China. These included claims that the Chinese President had been dethroned by the military, and removed as head of the armed forces - the People's Liberation Army, or PLA. There were also claims that Xi Jinping may have been placed under house arrest after the change of guard.

There are three main sparks behind these coup rumours. First, that Xi Jinping has not been seen in public since the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit in Uzbekistan in mid-September. Then, some social media users posted unverified videos, calling them proof of heavy military movement towards Beijing. Additionally, there were claims that more than half the flights in China had been grounded amid the political upheaval.

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But what is the situation in China's capital city? Do scenes at public places betray the truth of a secret coup? Here's what journalist Georg Fahrion, working with German organisation Der Spiegel, found.

He first visited the Xinhua Gate, the main entrance to Zhongnanhai compound which houses the residences and offices of top leaders including Xi Jinping. Amid claims of Xi's house arrest, military personnel were conspicuous by their absence.

Next Fahrion showed the situation at an important public spot - the Tiananmen Square. It is a large public square in the middle of Beijing and houses government museums, mausoleums, and meeting halls. Here too, there were many civilians, but no military.

Next was the headquarters of State Grid, which manages electricity supply in Beijing. Normal thoroughfare was seen outside the building. Occupying the second ring road near the offices of the Chinese foreign ministry was civilian traffic, and no military convoys. At Beijing's central railway station, the journalist found only civilian passengers milling about.

As the coup rumours gained prominence, experts on Chinese affairs were quick to shoot them down.

They reasoned that Xi Jinping's absence was probably due to quarantine after foreign travel. Also, the cancellation of flights has been common amid strict Covid restrictions in the country. Experts also said that a military coup in China is unlikely as the PLA remains under the firm control of politicians. Another reason that experts called the coup rumours unfounded was Xi Jinping's continuous crackdown on his opponents and dissidents, especially as he is close to securing an unprecedented third term in office.

Rumours of a coup emerged just days after two former Chinese ministers were sentenced to death for being part of a political clique - a hint that they were actually critics of Jinping. A few other officials were recently imprisoned on corruption charges.

The crackdown has been seen as Xi Jinping's plan to eliminate his critics in the Chinese Communist Party, as he tries to strengthen his hold and become equal to, if not greater than, past leaders like Mao Zedong.

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