Photo: Screenshot from Weibo
A few days ago we reported on how word of a Chinese coup attempt had soured the markets, following a report from the Epoch Times.rumour had it that tanks were in the streets, and gunshots were being fired near the Forbidden City.
While the news is supposed to be false, the BBC says they actually have no idea what’s going on and The Daily Mail reports China has scrubbed its Internet of all reports, rumours, and speculation of what’s happening on the ground. In response to the censorship Chinese bloggers are assigning code words to the key players in the political saga that are nearly impossible to block.
Bloggers have tried to get round this by referring to Mr Zhou as “Master Kong” — a brand of instant noodles — because the names share a common character in Chinese.
“Played too big, Master Kong is now in trouble,” posted one weibo user under the name Engineer Zhongyu.
And while the pictures of tanks and armoured cars in the streets of Beijing that immediately followed the news appear to be from old military parades, what’s surprising experts is how much prominence the rumours received, and how far they’ve spread.
The BBC admits that “these are not normal times in China.” The country is preparing itself for its once-a-decade realignment of its senior leadership, and there is plenty of infighting to fuel speculation.
The reality of the past few weeks has been that China has been gripped by some of the most extraordinary political events in years, and they indicate significant political tensions beneath the surface. It began in early February with the flight of Wang Lijun, deputy mayor and police chief of Chongqing to the US consulate in Chengdu where he sought asylum.
The fallout hit his boss, Bo Xilai, the populist Communist Party chief of Chongqing, member of the ruling Politburo and aspirant for one of the very top jobs in the leadership reshuffle later this year. His dismissal came after China’s Premier Wen Jiabao publicly reprimanded Mr Bo, warning “such historical tragedies as the Cultural Revolution may happen again”.
The Daily Mail followed up reports on China’s microblogging websites Sina, Weibo, QQ Weibo, and the search engine Baidu, which all reported “abnormalities” on March 19, but there is no longer any trace of the news. While unable to confirm the reports, The Mail says the rumours have caused a “speculative and nervous atmosphere in the [Chinese] capital.”
The Epoch Times looked to the Chinese regime’s Global Times for details on the situation and found an editorial published Thursday calling for the CCP’s “highest authorities” to clarify what exactly is going on.
Published in Chinese, the Epoch Times goes on to explain the editorial reveals confusion about who is actually in charge, and what the status is of the party’s current leadership.
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