Xi Jinping Trends Online Amid Coup Rumors, Canceled Flights

Chinese President Xi Jinping became one of the top trending topics on Twitter amid unsubstantiated reports he is under house arrest and that China is in the midst of a military coup.

Xi and the phrase #ChinaCoup trended on social media after tens of thousands of users spread unconfirmed rumors that the president was detained and overthrown by the China's People's Liberation Army.

This speculation, which has not been discussed by any reputable sources, arrived as there are hardly any commercial flights flying over the capital of Beijing on Saturday, with unverified reports claiming all trains and buses are also being canceled out of Beijing.

Beijing Capital Airport's website does show that several flights out of China's capital have been canceled; but many others are still scheduled or already landed. There has also been reports the fights were canceled amid a planned military exercise.

 Xi Jinping house arrest
Chinese President Xi Jinping attends the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) leaders' summit in Samarkand on September 16, 2022. Sergei BOBYLYOV / SPUTNIK / AFP/Getty Images

A widely shared video posted on Twitter is also reported to show a line of military vehicles up to 80 kilometers long heading into Beijing amid reports of a military coup on September 22.

However, the video is less than one minute long so does not show if the line of military vehicles stretches 80 km. It is not confirmed when or where it was filmed, or that the convoy is heading into Beijing as part of a military coup.

The rumor was also fueled by Indian politician Subramanian Swamy, who tweeted to his 10 million followers on Saturday: "New rumour to be checked out: Is Xi Jingping [sic] under house arrest in Beijing ? When Xi was in Samarkand recently, the leaders of the Chinese Communist Party were supposed to have removed Xi from the Party's in-charge of Army. Then House arrest followed. So goes the rumour."

In a series of tweets, Drew Thompson, a former Department of Defense official for China, Taiwan and Mongolia, describe the rumors as a "complete falsehood."

"The rumor that Xi Jinping has been arrested has legs because it is such a sensitive political moment in China, and the recent trials (and convictions) of long-serving senior officials creates a hothouse atmosphere," Thompson wrote.

"Open discussion of opposition to Xi makes the rumors plausible. Despite the lack of evidence that Xi faces internal opposition, speculation persists. This enhances plausibility of the rumor, or hope for some, that Xi gets arrested."

Frida Ghitis, a world affairs columnist and former CNN correspondent, also dismissed the "wild rumors" coming out of China.

"Social media buzzing with claims that there has been a coup in China, that Xi Jinping is under house arrest. But there is no evidence that this is true."

President Xi was recently at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) leaders' summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, where he held talks with Russia's president Vladimir Putin.

Newsweek has contacted the Chinese Foreign ministry for comment.