What is Going On in China?
Rumors. Bear in mind that everything about China right now is pretty speculative and nearly unverifiable, by design. For a media junkie like me, who nevertheless tries to avoid writing about rumors, it was hard to ignore the persistent ones about a coup.
The story was fairly consistent: Xi Jinping, President of China was said to have been put under house arrest upon returning from a diplomatic trip to India. The military had allegedly undertaken a coup to remove him from leadership as he tried to change Chinese law and take on a third term.
Flights in and out of Beijing were said to have been canceled by the thousands, along with trains.
That’s the gist of it, but the sources of these stories are unknown. Xi has created a state of extreme secrecy and constant surveillance of virtually everyone and everything. The result is a government wrapped in a cloud of impenetrable silence, only pierced by those rumors.
Xi reappeared in public after not being seen for ten days, so the rumors are just that, rumors. But their existence illustrates the enigma that is China, an enigma we should all be watching.
Outside factors that might have led to these events are more verifiable. The Chinese economy is in shambles as western countries woke up to their unhealthy reliance on Chinese manufacturing. Real estate speculation was estimated at 30% of GDP and that market has crashed spectacularly. Draconian crackdowns designed to stop Covid shut down major cities.
Hong Kong, once a major global financial center, is now a ghost business city, frozen by Xi’s destruction of its free market, the Western window to his economy, the place where business could be done with the closed Chinese mainland. That open door to a great country was slammed shut as Western banks and businesses fled oppression and unrest.
Constant thinly veiled threats to Taiwan, backed by massive military build-ups and skirmishes over the open seas, are forcing a confrontation between the US and Xi’s China. He is obsessed over the idea that Taiwan is a part of China. Apparently he is not getting the message that the rest of the world will not tolerate invasion of a…