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China orders internet whitewash amid coup rumours

United Kingdom,Media,Politics, Fri, 23 Mar 2012 IANS

London, March 23 (IANS) Nervous leaders in China have blocked all internet reports of an alleged attempted coup, the Daily Mail reported Friday.

 

Online reports of tanks on the streets of Beijing and shots fired within the secure leaders' compound - next to the top tourist spot, the Forbidden City - are being closely monitored by the international intelligence communities, including the US and Britain, it said.

 

Popular 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 rumours of the downfall of the country's Shanghai leadership faction, a reference to high-level officials who hail from the coastal financial hub, which has traditionally been the home of reformers and modernisers in the Party.

 

Some of the comments claimed a possible "military coup" had been attempted, along with other reports of gunfire and swarms of plain clothes and uniformed security officers on Changan Street, close to Tiananmen Square, scene of the 1989 massacre of pro-democracy protesters.

 

All the reports have been removed by China's army of internet censors and can no longer be accessed. MailOnline cannot confirm the rumours but the reports have caused a speculative and nervous atmosphere in Beijing.

 

Bo, the party secretary of the mega-city of Chongqing in west China, was widely tipped to join the all-powerful, nine-strong Politburo Standing Committee in the autumn.

 

But he was sacked after his right-hand man and police chief, Wang Lijun, sought asylum at a US consulate last month, the Mail said.

 

Wang "feared for his life" after he was dismissed for ordering an investigation into the business dealings of Bo's family.

 

The firing of Bo, a telegenic, controversial figure who had been encouraging "Mao-stalgia" - a return to the "red" socialist culture and values of Chairman Mao Zedong - has become a rare political drama in the authoritarian state as it prepares for a once-in-a-decade leadership change later this year, the newspaper added.

 


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