mandag 21. mars 2022

The Unintended Consequences of China’s Stance on Ukraine

Within hours of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, China’s social media platforms saw many pro-Russian comments treating the war as a joke or an opportunity to “chigua” (吃瓜, a slang term for rubbernecking or watching a disaster from afar). Such comments have once again led the world to believe that the Chinese people are inseparable from their government and contributed to negative perceptions of China in countries that are strongly against the war. The Chinese people who wrote such words stand in sharp contrast to those Russians who protested the war in Moscow on the night of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Why are some Chinese people so ebullient in the face of the war?

First, Chinese people lack channels to obtain objective news and information. The dominance of state narratives in China’s media environment – combined with the prevalence of nationalism, as discussed below – colors Chinese perceptions of the world. Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, China’s official coverage of the crisis has been slanted toward Russia.