While Russia continues its invasion of Ukraine, China is accelerating its propaganda against the West and for China. Chinese state-run outlets like China Daily, Global Times, and XinhuaNet are asserting that the Russian invasion of Ukraine is the fault of NATO and the United States, and that China stands ready to broker peace as an impartial and benevolent actor.
Claim #1: The War in Ukraine is All NATO’s Fault
Chinese media claim that it is NATO, not Russia that has instigated the war in Ukraine. One Global Times article stated that “NATO, under the leadership of Washington, is the real initiator and driving force behind the conflict between Russia and Ukraine…It is NATO’s eastward expansion that has triggered Ukraine’s desire to join NATO and greatly triggered Russia’s concerns over territorial security, which directly led to the current Russia-Ukraine conflict.” Another Global Times editorial sympathized with Russia in the Ukraine War, arguing that after five rounds of NATO expansion eastward, “[s]eeing its security space being encroached on inch by inch, Russia, or any other country, cannot but feel the threat of being cornered.” A XinhuaNet article, quoting US political scientist John J. Mearsheimer, placed the genesis of the Russian invasion of Ukraine with George W. Bush’s 2008 pledge that Georgia and Ukraine would become NATO members. Another XinhuaNet editorial, quoting Zivadin Jovanovic, former minister of foreign affairs of Yugoslavia, pegged the cause of the Russian invasion of Ukraine with the 1999 NATO bombing of Serbia.
Claim #2: The United States Has Instigated the War, and is Undermining Peace Efforts
Chinese media also portray the United States as instigating the war and inhibiting peace. According to one China Dailyeditorial, President Biden is “hell-bent on fanning [the] flames of the crisis,” and is “pushing to escalate and prolong the armed conflict.” Another China Daily article calls the war in Ukraine “a proxy war the US has orchestrated to weaken Russia and tighten its grip on Europe.” A third China Daily editorial states that “[b]y encouraging Ukraine to become its ‘pawn’ against Russia, the US has dragged it into the quagmire of war, with the aim of making the country a ‘drain’ on Russia’s national strength for a long time.” According to a Global Times article, the United States is “using Ukraine as a trap so that Europe would blindly and en masse assume its role of the US’ Atlantic flank.” Another Global Times editorial sees US diplomatic efforts as merely lip service: “If Washington really wants the ‘hard days’ of the Ukrainian people not to continue, then why did it choose to ‘coordinate’ with Europe to send weapons to Ukraine and sanction Russia, and refused to talk directly with Russia? The answer is clear: the US does not want real peace talks.”
Claim #3: China is an Honest Broker of Peace
While demonizing the United States, Chinese media lauds China as an honest broker of peace in Ukraine. “As the United States, the European Union, as well as allies and partners elsewhere, escalate sanctions against Russia, pledging to cripple the Russian economy, China has remained an impartial third party and has appealed for dialogue,” trumpets China Daily. Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi stated that “China, on its part, supports all efforts that are conducive to de-escalating the situation and achieving a political settlement,” as reported by China Daily. In fact, according to China’s permanent representative to the United Nations Zhang Jun as cited by a XinhuaNet editorial, “China welcomes any initiative and measure that can help alleviate and resolve the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine…China strongly calls on the international community to remain rational, strengthen unity and make unremitting efforts for ceasefire and peace. China will continue its constructive role in facilitating peace talks.” China has been “facilitating dialogue for peace from the very beginning,” according to a Global Times editorial.
While Russia continues its relentless campaign against Ukraine and its citizens, China seeks victory in the war of words. Through its propaganda in its English publications of Xinhua, China Daily, and Global Times, China is seeking to undermine confidence in the West and boost favorability of China amongst Americans.