Are thousands of flights in and out of Beijing being cancelled because a military coup is underway in China?!
Take a look at the viral claims, and find out what the facts really are!
Claim : Beijing Flights Are Being Cancelled During Coup In China!
The Internet is abuzz with claims that there is a military coup underway in China, with a 80 km military convoy heading for Beijing!
Many also believe that this was evidence of a military coup in China – over 6,000 domestic and international flights into and out of Beijing were just cancelled!
On top of that, about 60% of flights (about 9,583 flights) were cancelled across China on Wednesday, 21 September 2022.
- Beijing Capital International Airport canceled 622 flights, with a 60% cancellation rate.
- Shanghai Pudong International Airport had 652 cancelations of flights, with a 54% cancellation rate
- Shenzhen Baoan Airport’s 542 flights were canceled, with a 51% cancellation rate
- Guiyang Longdongbao Airport (Guizhou Province): 539 flights canceled, with a 99% cancellation rate
- Lhasa Gongga Airport (Tibet): 157 flights canceled, with a 98% cancellation rate
- Chengdu Tianfu Airport (Sichuan Province): 752 flights canceled, with a 87% cancellation rate
- Urumqi Diwobao Airport (Xinjiang): 476 flights; with a 79% cancellation rate
- Tianjin Binhai International Airport (about 84 miles east of Beijing): 353 flights; with a 74% cancellation rate
- Harbin Taiping Airport (Heilongjiang Province): 275 flights canceled; with a 56% cancellation rate
- Xi’an Xianyang International Airport (Shaanxi Province): 555 flights canceled; with a 56% cancellation rate
- Nanjing Lukou International Airport (Jiangsu Province): 378 flights canceled; with a 54% cancellation rate
- Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport (Guangdong Province): 560 flights canceled, with a 40% cancellation rate
The number of flights to and from Beijing continue to decline from Wednesday until Saturday.
Truth : Beijing Flights Are NOT Being Cancelled During Coup In China!
This is yet another example of FAKE NEWS that started as a rumour, but was used to generate page views for rumour / fake news websites.
Here are the reasons why… and what we know so far!
Fact #1 : Flights Are Being Cancelled In Beijing
First, let me confirm that the claims of mass flight cancellations into or out of Beijing are correct.
The flight tracking site flightradar24, for example, shows that the Beijing Capital International Airport and the Beijing Daxing International Airport have more or less come to a standstill with very few flights taking off, or landing.
Fact #2 : Some Flights Continue In + Out Of Beijing
While many scheduled flights at the airports either have a Cancelled status, or listed as Unknown, there continue to be some flights flying in and out of both airports.
It was not a total lockdown of the airspace around Beijing, as some have claimed. This would suggest that a military coup is not underway.
Fact #3 : Other Chinese Airports Are Operating Normally
According to flightradar24, other major Chinese airports in Shanghai and Hong Kong appear to be operating normally, although some flights have been cancelled.
It seems rather unlikely that coup plotters would allow airports to continue operating while trying to take over the country.
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Fact #4 : Flight Cancellations Are Common In China
There has been no official word on why so many flights were cancelled, but flight cancellations are rather common in China. This is especially true during the COVID-19 pandemic, when flights have been grounded with little or no warning.
While most of the world is relaxing COVID-19 measures and opening up, China is still persisting with its Zero COVID policy. Hence, it is certainly possible that those flights are being cancelled to protect Beijing from COVID-19 outbreaks / surges in other parts of China.
The Beijing Capital International Airport, incidentally, regularly ranks as one of the airports with the most cancellations in the world.
Fact #5 : Cancellations Could Possibly Be Due To COVID-19
The Chinese news portal Netease said that the cancellations were mainly due to the recent COVID-19 surges in multiple provinces in China, which makes quite a lot of sense.
Beijing is preparing to host 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) on 16 October 2022.
This is a major twice-a-decade meeting for the CCP, and one in which President Xi Jinping is expected to be re-elected as General Secretary for an unprecedented third term.
While the 20th National Congress is really just a rubber-stamp event, it is critical for President Xi that his Zero COVID policy is seen to work. Hence, it is critical that Beijing has no COVID-19 outbreak at that time.
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Fact #6 : Cancellations Could Possibly Be Due To Military Exercise
Former Chinese investigative journalist Zhao Lanjian, however, suggested that the flights may have been cancelled due to a military exercise.
This mass cancellation of flights must be a military directive. Air traffic control authority is decided by the Chinese military, which in turn gives instructions to civil aviation management. The airspace is set aside so that military aircraft can fly at will. This is military planning, or at least with military prep.
Fact #7 : No Evidence Of Military Coup In China
Outside of these flight cancellations and a 80 km military convoy, there really isn’t any actual evidence of a military coup in China.
If a military coup did occur, Beijing would be under martial law, with no flights allowed in and out. That would include a lockdown or curfew with military roadblocks all over Beijing and the rest of China.
These are all “noisy” actions that would be clearly visible, not only to the Chinese public but the entire world as well, especially in a time of smartphones and social media.
Yet, there was no mention of anything remotely close to a military coup of any kind, in any mainstream media or social media, either inside or outside of China.
It may be possible to keep a lid on such a major event in North Korea – the hermit kingdom, but not in China. Not even with the Great Firewall (防火长城).
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Dr. Adrian Wong has been writing about tech and science since 1997, even publishing a book with Prentice Hall called Breaking Through The BIOS Barrier (ISBN 978-0131455368) while in medical school.
He continues to devote countless hours every day writing about tech, medicine and science, in his pursuit of facts in a post-truth world.
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