SINGAPORE — While the West condemns Russia, President Vladimir Putin has vocal supporters in China, where the ruling Communist Party is telling its people they too are the target of US-led harassment.
“If Russia is destroyed, we will be next. It’s safe,” said Wang Yongchun, a retiree in Beijing. “The United States wants to dominate the world.
Such comments reflect the position of a ruling party that is Putin’s closest to a major ally: the war must end but the United States is to blame.
President Xi Jinping’s government tried to distance itself from the Russian offensive but avoided criticizing Moscow. The government offered to act as a mediator and denounced trade and financial sanctions against Russia.
The ruling party’s control over all Chinese media and intensive internet censorship make it difficult to gauge public opinion. But what the party allows online and requires the media to publish makes it clear what it wants the public to think.
Media outlets were told last week to publish only pro-Russian content and censor anti-Russian or pro-Western views, according to a copy of the instructions posted on the Beijing News newspaper’s social media account. The post was later deleted.
Online and on social media, there are expressions of sympathy for Ukraine and support for Russia, but no criticism of Moscow.
“When a war starts, aren’t the children of ordinary people used as cannon fodder?” said a post by Da Ke Ming Yi on social media platform Weibo. “Those who died were the children of ordinary people.”
A letter signed by five high-profile university professors who criticized Russia for attacking a weaker neighbor appeared briefly on social media before being deleted.
“We oppose unjust wars,” said scholars from schools such as Tsinghua University in Beijing, the alma mater of many ruling party leaders.
Comments posted by nationalists criticized the professors for not respecting the ruling party’s official position of neutrality.
The ruling party has spent decades using textbooks and fully state-controlled media to fuel a sense of nationalist grievance. He accuses the United States of trying to block China’s rise to its rightful position of global leadership.
State media is repeating Beijing’s position that the United States and its European allies are responsible for the war in Ukraine because they failed to address Russian concerns that its democratic neighbor should be barred from joining the nato, the western military alliance.
This echoes Chinese complaints that Washington and its allies are interfering in its internal affairs and national sovereignty issues, including its claim to Taiwan, territorial disputes in the South China Sea and Xinjiang, the South China region. far west where China has been accused of detaining more than a million Uyghurs.
The attack on Russia, as a historical event, “is not good”, but “people think that the conflict between Russia and Ukraine is because the United States has caused trouble “said Zheng Bowen, a 38-year-old engineer.
The state-run Capital News urged the public to align themselves with the ruling party: “The attitude of the nation is our attitude.
“China has always taken a fair and responsible attitude, calling on all parties to exercise restraint and ease the situation, and resume dialogue and negotiation,” he said.
However, the newspaper appeared to support Putin’s demand that Ukraine become a neutral buffer between Russia and Europe and give up the possibility of joining NATO.
“Ultimately, Ukraine should be a bridge between East and West, rather than a frontier of great power confrontation,” Capital News said.
Online comments called on China to support Russia by buying its exports of oil, gas and other goods.
“Let the Russian Embassy sell their wares live. Let’s show them China’s purchasing power,” a comment by Bao Zou Guang Xiao Pang said on Weibo. It received 42,000 likes.
A separate comment advocating that China maintain normal trade with Russia, an implied rejection of sanctions, received nearly 80,000 likes.
Social media platforms urged users to act responsibly and said they had deleted thousands of posts about the attack on Ukraine.
Douyin, a short-video service operated by the Chinese owner of TikTok, said it deleted more than 3,500 videos and 12,100 comments due to “vulgar, war-disparaging, sensationalistic and hostile comments”.
Popular messaging service WeChat has also complained about “vulgar messages” which it says have a “negative impact on cyberspace”.
He said some users “took the opportunity to post bad information on international news”, including war-disparaging comments such as crude jokes about “getting course credit by going to Ukraine and fighting in the war” and asking “Ukrainian beauties to come to China,” the platform said.
The WeChat post was later shared by a unit of China’s internet watchdog, the Cyberspace Administration of China.
Weibo said it deleted more than 4,000 posts that were vulgar and ridiculing the war. He said more than 10,000 accounts had been closed.
“Peaceful environments don’t come easily,” the company said in a social media post. He called on users to “maintain an objective and rational attitude” and participate in the discussion “reasonably.”
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