Has a military coup happened in China?

Xi Jinping

By Haider Abbas

The October 16, is the day when National Congress of Communist Party of China, is to convene and declare the third-term for the Chinese President Xi Jinping, as he is already the life-term President of China, but a very uneven news is coming out of China, which has the capacity to ‘rattle-and-baffle’ the world political scenario; China’s President is under house arrest!

The mainstream media outlets from China are showing no such signs, but in today’s world, social-media is the real media, and rumors are rife that something uncanny has taken place inside China which suggests that Xi Jinping has been toppled by his military. There are reports that an 80 kms military procession is heading towards the capital Beijing and that Xi Jinping has been taken under house-arrest and has been removed as head of the Peoples Liberation Army (PLA).

The untoward seem to have taken place and there is a sense of panic in China’s polity, as around 60 of flights all across China have been cancelled. It has come to light, through a news portal, China.com that, ‘ 9,583 flights had been canceled nationwide as of 22.35 p.m. on Sept. 21, accounting for 59.66 percent of those total scheduled journeys of the day.’ This whole emerging trend is definitely of great interest to India, and Subramanian Swami, known for his eye on Chinese affairs, has also confirmed to the same in his tweet on September 24 expressing concerns to the rumors that Xi Jinping has been removed.

There does seem to be ‘confusion in the air’ but what tends to give credence is the absence of Xi Jinping from the public space after his return from Samarkand SCO summit and the massive mobilization of military towards Beijing ? Plus, the cancellation of flights on such a huge scale? All such developments, however, does show something murky taking place inside China, which the whole world, is definitely watching with bated-breathe! The possibilities can be many, may be Xi Jinping is being given a ‘reality-wrap’ by Chinese top notches that China need to make some ‘review’ with its policies vis a vis Taiwan as US stands behind it, and also in context to India, where US again is by the side of India.
Xi Jinping over the years has been quite belligerent and vowed to fight to take back every inch of land which belonged to China. China swears by many differences it has with India, particularly in regions like Ladakh, Arunachal Pradesh ( which China calls as South Tibet) etc and is also locked-up with US on the conflict of Taiwan, and there were speculations, that China was to go with a war against Taiwan, after the provocative visit of US Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan in first week of August. This all war scenario is getting built-up every day,’ but what perhaps has not triggered it yet, is for the outcome of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war. It is also pertinent to recollect that Russia and China had decided to ‘fight-each-other’ wars, after the Beijing Winter Olympics and shortly after it, in February, the Russia-Ukraine war broke loose.

There are also estimates, by political commentators across the world, that Xi Jinping might be thoroughly counseled as the whole reputation of the Communist Party of China is also gravely at stake, and which just cannot take ‘such a big step’ to topple its President, as that would supposedly put a bad precedent, and obviously, as what the world history has proven, then there would then be many such coups! It is also likely that CCP may take certain steps to force Xi Jinping to improve on his image as there have been reports worldwide that people have not been ‘happy’ under his regime, particularly, in context to the state of law enforcing agencies. It was recently reported  that the scope of judicial independence in China is far on the depleting side. This is making ‘people at large’ to start to have an open grudge against the present President.

There is also an extreme pressure on China over its handling of COVID-19 pandemic, while openly accused by US to have been mainly responsible for it, which also did result into racial-assaults on Chinese citizens across the whole world, and there are also signals that international investment giant companies ( from US, South Korea etc) are also ‘leaving’ China which is adding to economic backlash inside China.

It is therefore not a surprise that the present growth rate in China is 0.4% iThe TOI reported. ‘ China’s economic growth slowed sharply in the second quarter, expanding 0.4% year-on-year and missing expectations, as widespread lockdowns to curb record Covid cases during the quarter hit industrial activity and consumer spending.’ No wonder an economic crisis is lurking on China.
The entire unfolding scenario might turn-out to be a hoax too as tomorrow the world may learn that nothing happened, but the way world has gravitated to the news emanating from China, shows that perhaps, every aspect of Chinese polity is under the scanner, and which, just cannot be swept under the carpet ‘so easily’ as social-media, is what holds the roosts today. The situation inside China, will be more keenly observed in India, as Russian ambassador to New Delhi, Denis Alipov, on September 23, has stated that Russia would not get involved into any border dispute between India and China, and that, it solely is a bilateral issue, which thereby, means, that Russia has openly sided with China, as Russia had in the last seven decades always symbolized with India, but now India, has swung the pendulum towards US, which seem to have not gelled-well with Russia.

Perhaps, the world is just waiting for the outcome of Russia-Ukraine war, which has now entered into a very serious phase.


The writer is a former UP State Information Commissioner and writes on international politics.


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