A photo is circulating in social media posts that claim it shows crowds waving a banner supporting China's President Xi Jinping in Tiananmen Square in 2021. The posts emerged after top Communist Party members passed a resolution that was expected to cement Xi's grip on power. The posts are misleading; the photo has circulated online since at least 2018.
"Protest in Tiananmen Square as people appeal to Xi to stay on as Chairman in 2023. Reports suggest Xi strongly considering acceding to the protestors' demands," reads a tweet posted on November 28.
The photo shows a crowd gathered in Beijing's Tiananmen Square, with a person holding a Chinese-language banner that reads: "Sincerely request Chairman Xi to be re-elected in 2023".
Screenshot of a misleading tweet, taken on November 29, 2021
Top Communist Party leaders wrapped up a key meeting in Beijing on November 11 by passing an important resolution on the country's past, state media said. The move was expected to cement President Xi's grip on power.
Having scrapped term limits in a 2018 constitutional amendment, Xi has not appointed a clear successor and is expected to lead until at least 2027.
However, the photo circulating in posts has been taken out of context.
A keyword search of text printed on the banner found the photo in a tweet posted on September 30, 2018 by US-funded news service Radio Free Asia.
Below is a screenshot comparison of the photo in misleading posts (left) and in Radio Free Asia's tweet from 2018 (right).
Screenshot comparison of the photo in misleading posts (L) and in Radio Free Asia's tweet from 2018 (R)
The simplified Chinese-language tweet reads: "On September 30, 2018, the day before the 69th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China, below the Tiananmen Rostrum in Beijing, people held up a banner 'Sincerely request Chairman Xi to be re-elected in 2023'.
"As seen in the picture, there was no interference from military police."
AFP could not verify Radio Free Asia's report of a protest in Tiananmen Square in September 2018.
There were no official reports of a pro-Xi Jinping demonstration in Tiananmen Square in November 2021.