Video of fireworks show in China's Luoyang falsely shared as Wuhan protest
A video of densely packed streets has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times in posts that falsely claim it shows a protest over health insurance reforms in the central Chinese city of Wuhan. While hundreds of retirees took to the streets in Wuhan in February to protest the reforms, the footage shows crowds gathered for a fireworks display in the city of Luoyang.
"Government cuts health insurance, Wuhan people stage protests," reads a tweet written in simplified Chinese characters posted on February 10 by an account with more than 17,000 followers.
The video, which has more than 5,700 views, shows streets packed with crowds and vehicles.
Screenshot of the video, taken on February 17, 2023
Hundreds of demonstrators staged a protest in front of Wuhan's city hall on February 8 against reforms to the health insurance system that have reduced allowances paid monthly to retirees.
Similar protests erupted a week later in Wuhan and Dalian.
The same video was viewed hundreds of thousands of times in Chinese-language posts linking it to the protests, including on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and US platform Gettr.
The clip also circulated in news reports around the world, including by Indian newspaper The Economic Times, Canada's The Weekly Voice and UK news outlet Asian Lite, as well as in social media posts from Canada, Spain and the United States.
Some posts sharing the video feature a username in the bottom-left corner that corresponds to a profile on Chinese social media platform WeChat.
AFP found the video posted on WeChat on February 6 -- two days before the health insurance reform protests erupted in Wuhan.
The WeChat post says: "The whole population of Yanshi is here."
Yanshi is a district of China's Luoyang city in Henan province, which is around 600 kilometres (370 miles) north of Wuhan.
Below is a screenshot comparison of the video in the false posts (left) and the WeChat video (right):
Screenshot comparison of the video in false posts (left) and the WeChat video (right)
A search on another Chinese platform Weibo for the keywords "Yanshi traffic jam" found various photos of the same scene in a post about a fireworks display in Yanshi on February 6.
The crossroads seen in the video can be found on Google Earth imagery taken between Yiluo Road and Xinxin Road in Yanshi, while the same buildings are visible on Baidu Maps.
Below are screenshot comparisons of the video shared in the false posts (left) and the street in Yanshi on Google Earth (right):
Screenshot comparisons of the video shared in the false posts (left) and the street in Yanshi seen on Google Earth (right)
Local broadcaster Henan Broadcasting System reported on the fireworks show on February 6, publishing photos featuring the same buildings seen in the video.
Below is a screenshot comparison of the buildings in one of the news photos (left) and on Google Earth (right), AFP has highlighted the key parts in white:
Screenshot comparison of the buildings in one of the news photos (left) and on Google Earth (right), AFP has highlighted the key parts in white