Video touted as 'railway workers protesting in Beijing in 2021' dates back at least six years

·2-min read

A video has circulated tens of thousands of times in social media posts alongside a claim it shows railway workers protesting in front of a government building in Beijing in December 2021. The claim, however, is false: the video has circulated in reports since at least 2015 about a protest by railway workers in China's capital.

"Breaking: The rebellion of Beijing railway workers who are civil servants," the simplified Chinese language caption in this December 19, 2021 post on US social media site Gettr.

"They gathered in groups and shouted at the officials. Isn't that rebellion? And they dared to ask: "Where's our money? Pay me back!""

In the one-minute and 10-second video, dozens of people can be seen gathered in front of a building which has a sign that reads: "Beijing Railway Administration".

The crowd can be heard chanting: "Pay me back" and "Please let the director talk to us" in Mandarin.

Some people in the crowd can also be heard claiming that Beijing employees are not being paid as much as those in Shanghai.

Screenshot taken on December 28, 2021, of the misleading Gettr post

Gettr originally existed as a Chinese-language site for opponents of the Chinese Communist Party, according to this report by Politico. It is now aimed at US conservatives and is reportedly part-funded by a fugitive Chinese billionaire.

In December 2021, the video of the protest was viewed more than 177,000 times alongside a similar claim here, here and here on Twitter; here on Facebook and here on TikTok.

However, the footage does not show a recent protest; it has circulated online since at least 2015.

A reverse image search on Google found the video featured as part of this article published by the US government-funded news service Radio Free Asia on November 3, 2015.

It describes how almost 100 employees gathered outside the Beijing Railway Administration to protest against wage deductions.

Below are two screenshot comparisons of the video shared in the misleading posts (L) and the video published as part of the report by Radio Free Asia (R):

Screenshot comparisons of the video shared in misleading posts (L) and the video published by Radio News Asia (R)

Beijing Railway Administration changed its name to China Railway Beijing Group in 2017, as reported by Chinese state newspapers Beijing Youth Daily here and Legal Evening News here.

A keyword search found no media reports about demonstrations by railway workers in Beijing in December 2021.

This article was updated on December 31 to correct the name of the Beijing Railway Administration.

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