BEI­JING COUP RU­MORS

The Washington Times Daily - - Nation -

U.S. in­tel­li­gence agen­cies mon­i­tor­ing China’s In­ter­net say that from March 14 to Wed­nes­day blog­gers cir­cu­lated alarm­ing re­ports of tanks en­ter­ing Bei­jing and shots be­ing fired in the city as part of what is said to have been a high­level po­lit­i­cal bat­tle among party lead­ers — and even a pos­si­ble mil­i­tary coup.

The In­ter­net dis­cus­sions in­cluded pho­tos posted on­line of tanks and other mil­i­tary ve­hi­cles mov­ing around Bei­jing.

The re­ports fol­lowed the ouster last week of se­nior Polit­buro mem­ber and Chongqing Party Sec­re­tary Bo Xi­lai, who was linked to cor­rup­tion, but who is said to re­main close to China’s in­creas­ingly na­tion­al­is­tic mil­i­tary.

Chi­nese mi­croblog­ging sites Sina Weibo, QQ Weibo, and the bul­letin board of the search en­gine Baidu all re­ported “ab­nor­mal­i­ties” in Bei­jing on the night of March 19.

The com­ments in­cluded ru­mors of the down­fall of the Shang­hai lead­er­ship fac­tion and a pos­si­ble “mil­i­tary coup,” along with re­ports of gun­fire on Bei­jing’s Changan Street. The re­ports were quickly re­moved by Chi­nese cen­sors shortly af­ter post­ings and could no longer be ac­cessed by Wed­nes­day.

The un­usual post­ings in­cluded re­ports that mil­i­tary ve­hi­cles were sent to con­trol Changan Street, along with plain­clothes po­lice of­fi­cers and me­tal bar­ri­ers.

An­other post­ing quoted in­ter­nal sources as say­ing se­nior Com­mu­nist Party lead­ers are di­vided over the ouster of Mr. Bo. The di­vide was said to pit Prime Min­is­ter Wen Ji­abao and against party se­cu­rity forces and Min­is­ter of Public Se­cu­rity Zhou Yongkang.

Late Wed­nes­day, an­other alarm­ing in­di­ca­tor came when Bei­jing au­thor­i­ties or­dered all lev­els of public-se­cu­rity and in­ter­nal-se­cu­rity forces un­der Mr. Zhou to con­duct na­tion­wide study ses­sions, although Mr. Zhou’s name was not on the or­der — a sign his fu­ture may be in doubt.

Ad­di­tional ref­er­ences on Chi­nese so­cial me­dia in­cluded vague men­tion of high-level party po­lit­i­cal strug­gles and re­lated po­lice ac­tiv­ity in Bei­jing.

One post­ing re­ferred to a mys­te­ri­ous at­mos­phere in Bei­jing and a re­ported shoot­ing Tues­day night. The post­ing was quickly censored by au­thor­i­ties.

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