As reported, airports across China have widely canceled domestic flights recently, prompting questions and speculation about events in China. The 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China is approaching, and large-scale flight cancellations have been a part of China’s previous significant incidents. Analysts said it brought the international community’s attention to the actual situation of turmoil in the top ranks of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) ahead of the 20th National Congress.
On September 21, screenshots of large-scale flight cancellations at airports across China went viral on the Internet. Many mainland netizens questioned what happened.
Data showed on September 21, 9,583 flights across China were canceled, with a cancellation rate of 59.66%.
On China’s Weibo social network, the topic of large-scale flight cancellations was quickly pushed on hot searches. A Chinese netizen said: “Such a large number of flights are suddenly canceled in peacetime. If there is no major incident, I don’t know what it is,” according to Sina.
CCP officials through mainland news sites claimed that the rate of large-scale flight cancellations has been standard since the outbreak of the COVID pandemic.
On September 21, the CCP held a seminar in Beijing on military and defense reform. Xi Jinping, the top leader of the Communist Party of China and chairman of the Central Military Commission, told the meeting that the military should “focus on preparing for war.” But, according to a CCTV video, the mouthpiece of the Communist Party of China, Xi Jinping, issued the directive without attending the meeting.
Chen Pokong, a Chinese-American political commentator, believed that the reason for most flight cancellations is not the pandemic. Chen said in his media on September 24 that the 20th National Congress is approaching. Large-scale flight cancellations took place ahead of the 18th and 19th National Congresses, and this time the repetition may also involve political struggles.
Flight cancellations incident in 2020
On March 5, 2020, Chinese media reported that flights from Shenzhen to Hangzhou, Zhejiang, were canceled, and the reason given by the airline was “public safety.”
At that time, a military plane crashed in Wuqing District, Tianjin, on March 5, 2020. Twitter account ‘United strength’ posted a video on March 6 that said: “Military plane crashed! Violence explodes! Has a coup occurred? … There has been a lot of air traffic control lately, many flights have been canceled. At this sensitive time, there have been many incidents around Beijing!”
Since Tianjin is adjacent to Beijing, this issue has sparked speculation. Netizens linked the incident to this year’s flight cancellation incident. Furthermore, they analyzed that there may be “a key official who fled and was shot down” and called this the “repeated Lin Biao incident,” according to Vision Times.
12 airports in China stopped flights to detain Zhou Yongkang
On July 29, 2014, Quiyang Net said that from July 20 to August 15, 12 airports in East China and Central China suspended operations for 26 days.
A person in the CCP’s civil aviation industry later confirmed that the online news was basically true to the CCP’s official media, Beijing News. Still, the reason and specific time were not disclosed. Flights to the Southwest and Northwest regions were not affected.
At the time, the number of long-term cancellations raised domestic and international concerns.
The Civil Aviation Administration of China, on July 24, 2014, stated that the flight delay or cancellation was due to a combination of factors such as thunderstorms and routine military exercises. The Civil Aviation Administration also suspended applications for business jet flight plans, overtime operations, and charter operations at the relevant airports.
Before July 14 of the same year, Shanghai also had an unusually delayed plane situation. In addition, there was news on Weibo of a significant military operation in East China (Shanghai) from 10:00 to 16:00 that day.
Some aviation personnel told Chinese media that the airspace control was due to military exercises.
However, the CCP authorities announced on July 29, 2014, that Zhou Yongkang, former Standing Member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China and Secretary of the Political and The law, had been included in the investigation file. On December 6 of the same year, Zhou Yongkang was expelled from the party and prosecuted. In June 2015, Zhou Yongkang was sentenced to life in prison for accepting bribes, abusing power, and intentionally disclosing state secrets. Zhou Yongkang was the highest-ranking official fired after the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China.
Hong Kong newspaper SCMP published an article in January 2015, saying that 12 airports were banned at once to stop the “big tiger” Zhou Yongkang, who was trying to escape. Zhou Yongkang was the holder of the CCP’s political, legal, and public security apparatus for many years. In addition, he had many henchmen, an advantage that other “tigers” did not have. So the opportunity for successful defection was huge.
The Epoch Times previously reported that Zhou Yongkang was fired for co-conspiring with Bo Xilai in a coup plot to wrest power from Xi Jinping. The coup plot was supported by former Chinese Communist Party leader Jiang Zemin. It was masterminded by Zeng Qinghong, a former Politburo Standing Committee member, and the Jiang faction had planned it for a long time. However, everything fell apart when Wang Lijun, then the Director of the Chongqing Public Security Bureau, fled to the U.S. consulate.
Lin Biao fled, and Zhou Enlai shut down all airports
Commentator Chen Pokong of The Epoch Times also thought that the cancellation of flights in China was similar to the incident of Lin Biao being forced to defect to the Soviet Union. He said, “Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai planned to kill Lin Biao. That night, the lights and airports all over the country were shut down, Lin Biao’s plane had nowhere to land and had to fly north. This historic event still remains a secret.”
On September 13, 1971, Lin Biao, the CCP’s constitutional successor to Mao Zedong, died in a plane crash in Wendur Khan, Mongolia, which became a significant event in contemporary Chinese politics, shocking the world. Ye Qun, Lin Biao’s wife, and his son Lin Liguo were also killed in the plane crash, while their daughter Lin Liheng did not board the plane.
According to the book “Report of Past Events in Beidaihe,” published by the CCP, Zhou Enlai advised Mao Zedong to issue a nationwide flight ban, and troops stationed at the airports in the name of preventing Soviet attacks and airborne landings, set up barricades to prevent all aircraft from taking off.
At 2:27 a.m. on September 13, the plane crashed in Mongolia, killing three members of the Lin family in the wilderness. However, the CCP only announced the death of Lin Biao on October 24, more than a month after his death.
CCP officials and ordinary people have entirely different opinions on why Lin Biao fled. The opinion of people at home and abroad is that the Lin Biao case was unjust. Mao Zedong wanted to bring down Lin Biao. Biao was cornered before he escaped with his wife and son. His flight was a political exile, not treasonous activity.
CCP officials have not released historical documents for that year, and the death of Lin Biao remains a mystery.