Military vehicles block a major street in Beijing on Monday evening. (Internet photo)
A photo posted online shows plainclothes police on Beijing's major streets. (Internet photo)
A Weibo post said many military cars and plainclothes police were out in Beijing on Monday evening. (Internet photo)
Reports of an outbreak of gunfire on the streets of Beijing on Monday evening have swarmed the country's social media platforms, as local residents and well-known microbloggers took to the internet to discuss what might have happened, reports the Chinese-language news portal Aboluowang.
Real estate tycoon Pan Shiyi noted on his microblog that some specific words could not be published on the internet. "Is a ghost over there?" said the chairman of SOHO China, the largest real estate developer in Beijing.
Li Delin, editor of the Chinese-language magazine Securities Market Weekly, said a crowd of military vehicles were gathered on Chang'an Avenue, the capital's central thoroughfare, and traffic controls had been set up. Plainclothes police officers were seen posted on street corners while fencing had been set up at some intersections.
Wu Guancong, sales executive of the Guangzhou-based Xian Sports, said that according to an inside source, a high-level political disagreement has erupted over Bo Xilai, the former Communist Party chief of Chongqing, who was dismissed on March 15.
Wu said there had been a fierce argument about Bo's dismissal between Premier Wen Jiabao and Zhou Yongkang, a fellow member of the all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee, and almost all the leaders in China's top circle of power have become engulfed in the row.
One rumor went so far as to say that action has been taken against four men — Bo Xilai, Zhou Yongkang, Jia Qinglin and Zeng Qinghong. Jia, like Zhou, is a member of the Politburo Standing Committee, while Zeng is a former member. These four senior leaders have been regarded as a clique opposed to Wen.
An internet user going by the name "Cangciwang" said, "Are the emperor's father and the current emperor coming to a showdown tonight? What a terrific drama!"
Lu Sun, vice CEO of Maso Group in the eastern province of Zhejiang, said on his microblog that foreign media outlets rushed to the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing and no vehicles were allowed to park outside the departure station of Beijing airport. Some famous media figures were not allowed to leave the country or were taken away by the authorities in the name of helping in their investigations.
China is set to undergo a leadership transition at later this year, a changeover that occurs once a decade. Two-thirds of the members of the Politburo Standing Committee, State Council and Central Military Commission, China's most important political bodies, will be replaced. Bo Xilai, the leftist party chief of Chongqing, was formerly seen as a candidate for a place on the Politburo Standing Committee, but the recent high-profile attempted defection of his former right-hand man Wang Lijun appears to have given the controlling faction at the top level of power a convenient pretext to halt his ambitions.
Pan Shiyi 潘石屹
Li Delin 李德林
Wu Guancong 巫冠聰
Wen Jiabao 溫家寶
Bo Xilai 薄熙來
Zhou Yongkang 周永康
Jia Qinglin 賈慶林
Zeng Qinghong 曾慶紅
Lu Sun 呂筍