TRUE OR FALSE. The “coup” in China was a rumor: x-ray of a globally relayed “fake news”

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A rumor about the arrest of Chinese President Xi Jinping emerged on Twitter last weekend: La Dépêche went back to the source of this false information, carried by Chinese opponents exiled in the United States.

Rumors of a coup against Chinese President Xi Jinping surfaced on social media on Friday (September 23rd), as the 20th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party is due to open on October 16th, with Xi’s re-election up for grabs. This information, erroneous, in fact comes from activists opposed to communist power. La Dépêche has deciphered the origin of this fake news.

A rumor started by an activist

It all started after Xi Jinping returned from Samarkand, where the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit was held on September 16. After this date, the current Chinese leader kept a low profile. On Wednesday September 21, several tweets in Mandarin announce the rumor of a coup d’etat, in particular that of an anonymous account whose psudonym is “New Highland Vision”: it explains that Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao, the ex-president and prime minister, took power on September 14 and “removed military power” from Xi. When the latter found out, “he came back [de Samarcande] in Beijing on the 16th, was arrested at the airport, and placed in a remand center”.

北京 惊传 : 14日 习 出访 中亚 , 当天 下午 胡温 成功 前任 前任 常委 宋平 , 并 在 晚上 控制 控制 了 警 警 卫 局。。 通知 江曾 江曾 在 京 中 中 央 委 员 , 原来 的 的 的 的 的 的 的, 以 举手表决行式 , 罢黜 了 他 的 军权 , 当 他 知道 , , 16日 晚 晚 返京 机场 机场 被 控制 现 软禁 在 中 南 海 中 , 十九 七 七 中 中 全会 将 宣布 宣布 真。。。。。无法求证。

— 新高地官推官网: (@5xyxh) September 22, 2022

The journalist Zhao Lanjian also explains, on September 22, that a large part of the flights departing from China would have been canceled, information reported by The Epoch Times. This newspaper run by Chinese exiles living in the United States is openly hostile to the communist power of Beijing and is happy to follow conspiracy theories, in particular relaying information on QAnon and Trump, as reported. NBC News.

But the rumor really took off on September 23, following the broadcast of images of military vehicles on Twitter by Jennifer Zeng, a Chinese human rights activist, several times arrested in China and exiled to the States. -United. She notably practices Falun Gong, a new religion persecuted in China, and strongly linked to theEpoch Timeswhich was founded by followers of this cult.

#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

— Jennifer Zeng 曾錚 (@jenniferzeng97) September 23, 2022

“PLA military vehicles [l’armée Chinoise] heading for Beijing on September 22, […] in a procession of 80° kilometers. Meanwhile, rumor has it that Xi Jinping was arrested after Communist Party dignitaries stripped him of command of the PLA,” Jennifer Zeng’s tweet read. China, then swell the rumor, although Jennifer Zeng denies the existence of a coup in the same thread on Twitter. designated by Xi.

An infox quickly denied

Among the reasons advanced to justify the alleged coup d’etat is the current purge of the regime carried out by Xi Jinping, which notably saw the former Chinese Minister of Justice Fu Zhenghua and the former Deputy Minister of Security public Sun Lijun to be “suspended death sentence” for corruption.

This weekend, the rumor was finally quickly debunked: Beijing is currently showing no unusual signs of activity, and flight cancellations have been greatly exaggerated.

The magnitude of this fake news, however, raises questions: many Indian accounts have relayed the rumor, as well as several personalities who have been able to give it an audience, such as the winner of the Pullitzer Prize, the American journalist Laurie Garrett, citing the very serious magazine Newsweek. A life-size demonstration of the speed of circulation of false information.

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.

— Atandra Ray (@atandra_ray) September 25, 2022

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TRUE OR FALSE. The “coup” in China was a rumor: x-ray of a globally relayed “fake news”