The 'China coup' theory has fallen flat as President Xi Jinping made a public appearance on Tuesday. Xi was not seen publicly after he attended the Shanghai Cooperation summit in Samarkhand last week.
The China strongman's absence from public view, albeit for a short duration, gave rise to intense speculation about drastic political changes in Beijing.
Reports that Xi was under 'house arrest' after a 'military coup' began trending on the Internet following a tweet by an overseas Chinese citizen, Jennifer Zeng. Jennifer, who is known as a human rights activist and journalist, now lives in the United States.
Although the 'China coup' conspiracy theory was trending in the online world, especially among Indian netizens, no mainstream western media outlet had taken it up. Nor did Beijing take it seriously or bothered to deny the baseless rumors.
Days after the rumors started, Xi has now made his first public appearance as he visited an exhibition in Beijing on Tuesday. China's state television showed him taking part in the event.
Rumors about Xi's removal from power came just weeks ahead of a crucial meeting of the China Communist Party in which the president is likely to be given more powers.
For weeks, speculations in China pointed towards the possibility of Xi being anointed as the Chairman of the people's republic, a position which was held only by Mao Zedong.
More Power to Xi
Xi is widely expected to secure a precedent-breaking third term as leader at the Communist Party's once-in-five-years congress next month. Officials from China's ruling Communist Party did not respond to the rumours as the party prepares for its five-yearly congress set to begin on October 16.
In March 2018, China approved constitutional changes that effectively allowed Xi to remain in power for life. In a landmark move, the National People's Congress approved a resolution that sought to remove the two-term limit on the presidency, which was in place since the 1990s. While 2,964 delegates to the annual Congress supported the move, only two voted against it, suggesting how invasive and complete the popularity of Xi has been.
Xi then went on to amass more power and acquire a brighter halo around him, so much so that he was on the cusp of being elevated to the status of Chairman Mao.
China also recently adopted what it calls the Xi School of thought, bestowing on the president the kind of adulation received by Mao Zedong, the republic's founder. The 'Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era' is to be taught in schools and universities across the country.