This video corresponds with footage of China launching a rocket -- not an 'artificial sun'

Copyright AFP 2017-2022. All rights reserved.

A video has been viewed tens of thousands of times on social media platforms in January 2022 alongside a claim it shows China launching an “artificial sun”. The video circulated online after Chinese state media reported that China had tested a nuclear fusion reactor, setting a new world record for sustained high temperatures. But the video has been shared in a false context: it corresponds with footage of a Chinese rocket launch in December 2021.

The video was published in a Facebook post here on January 11, 2022. 

The footage shows a crowd holding up their smartphones to film what appears to be a rising fireball on the horizon.

The post's caption reads: "China launches a new artificial sun... Sun rising from the west is a sign of [the apocalypse]".

Screenshot of the misleading post taken on January 12, 2022.

The post circulated online after Chinese state media agency Xinhua reported that tests for a nuclear fusion reactor in China -- referred to as an “artificial sun” --  had set a new record for sustained high temperatures in December 2021.

The reactor operated at temperatures five times hotter than the Sun during experiments in Hefei, capital of east China's Anhui province, the news agency reported.

The same video has been shared in posts in English, Urdu, Japanese, and Indonesian.

However, the video has been shared in a false context.

In the video, the crowd can be heard repeatedly chanting in Chinese; "Fire [up] the engine" and "The rocket has been launched!"

Reverse image searches and keyword searches on Baidu subsequently found the video corresponds with scenes of a rocket launch last December in southern China's Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site.

China launched a pair of satellites on a rocket at the launch site on December 23, 2021, according to the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation. 

A similar video of the same scene was posted here on China's Twitter-like social media platform Weibo on January 7, 2022.

The post's Chinese-language caption translates as: "Glad to witness the rocket launch, so impressive". 

The video shows the same beach cove lined with trees on the right-hand side. 

Below are two screenshot comparisons of the video in the misleading posts (L) and the Weibo video (R):

Keyword searches found another similar video posted on China's video-sharing platform Bilibili here on December 23, 2021.

The video's Chinese-language headline reads: "Real-time footage of Long March-7A rocket launch".

Below is a screenshot comparison of the video in the misleading post (L) and the Bilibili video (R) with similar features circled in red by AFP:

An comparison of the misleading post (L) and the Bilibili post (R).