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Strange times in China as coup rumors won't go away

Top-level corruption inquiries, sackings, mystery consulate visits, requests for asylum and open unrest on the streets all contribute to a period of unprecedented uncertainty.

  • Damian Grammaticas
  • China
  • March 29, 2012
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Have you heard? There's been a coup in China! Tanks have been spotted on the streets of Beijing and other cities! Shots were fired near the Communist Party's leadership compound!

OK, before you get too agitated, there is no coup. To be more exact, as far as we know there has been no attempted coup.

To be completely correct we should say we do not know what's going on. The fact is there is no evidence of a coup. But it is a subject that has obsessed many in China this week.

Welcome to the weird and wonderful world of reporting on China in the past few days. Coup rumours ricocheted back and forth, most over the internet, but some were picked up by western newspapers. China's microblogs were awash with speculation. Hard facts were non-existent.

Photographs of tanks and armoured cars on city streets were flying around Twitter and elsewhere. On closer inspection though, some of the pictures seemed to be old ones from rehearsals for military parades, others did not even seem to be of Beijing, as they claimed, but different Chinese cities.

Many people seemed to believe something was happening, though. The thing that is fascinating is how much traction the talk gained, how far it spread, and what it suggests about China today.

What is most important is that these are not normal times in China. The political atmosphere is tense, full of talk about infighting, purges and power-struggles at the top as China's Communist Party prepares for its once-in-a-decade leadership shuffle later this year.

 Full Story: Damaging coup rumours ricochet across China

Source: BBC News
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