“Beijing on edge amid coup rumours”

FT on all the rumors that have been flying around over the last two days:

Since Bo Xilai, one of China’s most powerful leaders, was removed from his job last Thursday, the bureaucracy and the public have been on tenterhooks, awaiting the next twist in the gripping political saga.

In one rumour that spread rapidly on Monday night, a military coup had been launched by Zhou Yongkang, an ally of Mr Bo’s and the man in charge of China’s state security apparatus, and gun battles had erupted in Zhongnanhai, the top leadership compound in the heart of Beijing.

But when the Financial Times drove past the compound late on Monday night, all appeared calm and by Wednesday evening there was no indication that anything was out of the ordinary.

However, one person with close ties to China’s security apparatus said Mr Zhou had been ordered not to make any public appearances or take any high-level meetings and was “already under some degree of control”.

Adding to the air of intrigue in the capital, a report of a fatal car crash on Sunday involving the son of a top leader and a Ferrari appeared on the internet but was quickly removed by official censors.

Netizens and one source with close ties to China’s top leaders said the illegitimate son of a politburo standing committee member was killed in the crash and two young women were badly hurt.

It’s been odd seeing stories of the coup published, then retracted, then in a few cases un-retracted. The most likely scenario now is probably that in the aftermath of Bo being purged some of his ideological allies are also finding themselves in trouble, although how much trouble and whether or not it will last are very different questions.

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Filed under 2012 power transfer, Chongqing Model/Bo Xilai

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