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False posts about ‘anti-graft arrests on live TV’ surface after 2024 China political meet

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Posts that surfaced after China’s “Two Sessions” political meeting in March 2024 misrepresented an old video they falsely claimed showed officials reacting to anti-graft arrests supposedly broadcast live on television. Chinese President Xi Jinping has waged a sweeping campaign against deep-seated corruption since coming to power but there were no official reports about the purported event described in the posts as of April 15, 2024. The video previously circulated in news reports about a political meeting in southwestern Chongqing municipality in January 2022.

The clip was shared on social media site Gettr on March 25.

It showed a meeting interrupted by an off-screen incident that prompted several officials to react in shock.

The post surfaced after China capped a week-long annual legislative conclave known as the “Two Sessions” in early March.

Thousands of delegates from across the country convened in the tightly choreographed event in the capital Beijing — and voted on legislation already pre-approved by the ruling Communist Party.

The post’s simplified Chinese caption claimed the clip was taken from live TV footage that captured the reaction of officials when China’s anti-corruption Discipline Inspection Commission barged in to make arrests.

“A meeting of leading cadres in a certain city was broadcast live on a TV station. Suddenly, people from the Discipline Inspection Commission came in to arrest people,” the post said.

It criticised the officials’ shocked reactions and said it purportedly “proved” they were corrupt.

<span>Screenshot of the false post, taken April 12, 2024</span>

Screenshot of the false post, taken April 12, 2024

The clip was also shared alongside a similar claim on social media platform X here, here and here, on Facebook here and here, and on YouTube.

Since rising to power in 2013, China’s President Xi Jinping has waged a constant campaign against deep-seated graft though critics say the policy has helped him purge political rivals.

However, AFP found no official reports the event described in the posts actually occurred.

Moreover, the circulating clip was featured in old news reports that said an official fainted during a political meeting in Chongqing in 2022, prompting the shocked reactions.

Old footage

A reverse image search of a keyframe on Google led to footage published in a report by Hong Kong-based news site Singtao on January 17, 2022 (archived link).

The report said Wang Jiong, chairman of the political advisory body Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) in Chongqing, fainted while about to deliver a speech.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the circulating clip (left) and the footage published by Singtao in 2022 (right):

<span>Screenshot comparison of the video in the false posts (left) and the one published by Singtao in 2022 (right)</span>

Screenshot comparison of the video in the false posts (left) and the one published by Singtao in 2022 (right)

Similar reports about the incident were also published in January 2022 by Hong Kong-based news outlet Mingpao as well as Lianhe Zaobao, a Chinese-language broadsheet published by the Singapore Press Holdings (archived link here and here).

Nowhere in the reports was there a mention of Wang Jiong or any official being “arrested” during the event.

According to Chinese state-owned media The Paper, Wang changed posts from the CPPCC and was elected chairman of the standing committee of the Chongqing Municipal People’s Congress in January 2023 (archived link).

The official website of the Chongqing government showed him attending recent government events in 2024 for example here and here (archived links here and here).

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