tirsdag 1. mars 2022

China’s Muddled Ukraine Response Feeds Rare Domestic Debate

As China holds off in publicly criticizing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, a rare debate has emerged on Chinese social media over the military action by a close diplomatic partner.

Images of global anti-war protests -- including in Russia -- circulated on China’s Twitter-like Weibo over the weekend, as Putin’s forces shelled Ukrainian cities. Articles mocking Russia’s limited military gains were also shared, with some comparing Putin to a disgraced tai-chi master who was defeated in seconds by an amateur. Other users called for “defending common sense” by rejecting Russia’s perceived imperialist expansion, while state broadcaster CGTN aired appeals from Chinese students in Ukraine asking for peace.

Those criticisms were countered by a proliferation of pro-Russia voices, echoing Chinese Foreign Ministry claims last week that the U.S. was the “culprit” of the conflict for “hyping” war and backing the expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily and state-run CCTV both avoided the word “invasion” in favor of “Russia-Ukraine conflict.”