Posts falsely claim video of farewell for Chinese firefighters shows 'people besieging troops'

·3 min read

A video of a huge crowd surrounding a procession of vehicles has been viewed tens of thousands of times on Twitter alongside a claim it shows people in the southwest Chinese megacity of Chongqing besieging military troops who tried to crack down on a protest. This is false. The video has circulated in state media reports about Chongqing residents bidding farewell to firefighters from nearby Yunnan province after they helped to fight wildfires in the region.

"Breaking! A large number of citizens in Chongqing besieged military troops," reads this Twitter post in simplified Chinese published on August 28.

The 20-second clip -- which appears to have been sped up with video editing software  -- has been viewed more than 22,000 times.

Screenshot of the Twitter video taken on September 4, 2022

The video was also shared alongside a similar claim here and here on Twitter.

The posts did not give a reason for the alleged demonstration, and some commenters drew comparisons with the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests.

The claim, however, is false.

The video has actually circulated in state media reports about crowds in Chongqing bidding farewell to firefighters from nearby Yunnan province after they helped battle wildfires in August.

Heroes' send-off

AFP found a three-minute video posted by a journalist based in Chongqing which contains the first 10 seconds of the video shared in the misleading posts.

The journalist's video, which plays at regular speed, is captioned: "Today (August 28), in Beibei [district], Chongqing, the masses crossed the road to say goodbye to the Yunnan Forest Firefighters.

"Netizens said: The high temperature of 40 degrees can't stop the people of Chongqing. I'm so moved, I haven't seen this scene in Chongqing for many years.

"PS. It is understood that there are many volunteers who fought with the firefighters at the farewell scene."

Below is a screenshot comparison of the video shared in the misleading posts (left) and the journalist's video (right):

Screenshot comparison of the vehicles in the video shared in the misleading posts (left) and the journalist's video (right)

AFP reported wildfires broke out in Chongqing in August as the city recorded high temperatures of up to 40 degrees Celsius.

Hundreds of firefighters from nearby Yunnan province were sent to Chongqing to help fight the blaze, China's state news agency Xinhua reported on August 28. As the situation was brought under control, Yunnan firefighters began to pull out of Chongqing, the report states.

Yunnan's fire brigade shared this video by Chinese state newspaper the People's Daily on August 28 alongside a caption stating it shows Chongqing residents saying farewell to the firefighters.

"Yunnan and Chongqing are family, #Chongqing People Took to the Street to Send off Firefighters#," the post's caption reads.

The video in the misleading posts corresponds with the People's Daily video from its 10-second mark.

Below is a screenshot of the video shared in the misleading posts (left) and the video shared by Yunnan's fire brigade (right):

Screenshot of the video shared in online posts (left) and the Weibo video (right)

In the original clip, the onlookers standing on either side of the road can be seen waving Chinese flags and shaking hands with the firefighters as they pass through in vehicles marked "Rescue".

Below is a screenshot of this point in the video:

A screenshot of the Weibo video with 'Rescue' on the vehicle highlighted in red. ( AFP / )

  

Chinese state media outlets published videos showing a similar scene here, here and here.