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Chinese state media have slightly changed the tone, talking about Russian aggression – The New York Times

Chinese state media and officials have slightly changed the tone of their reports and comments about Russia's aggression against Ukraine.

Chinese state media have slightly changed the tone, talking about Russian aggression – The New York Times
Russian President Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping during a meeting in Beijing on February 4, 2022
Photo: EPA / UPG

According to the New York Times publication, the state media pays a little less attention to "Russia's military power" and a little more to peace talks and victims of Russian strikes among the civilian population.

In the early days of the war, the evening news program of the state-run CCTV largely emphasized the superiority of the Russian armed forces. However, more videos of President Zelensky and mentions of victims of Russian aggression appeared this week.

The popularity of Russian state propaganda has also declined on Weibo, a Chinese social network with strict censorship. On Thursday, the only top Weibo material about the war was the speech of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky before the US Congress.

Shi Yinghong, a professor of international relations at the Renmin University in Beijing, told The New York Times that he had noticed subtle shifts in China's official discourse on Ukraine in recent days.

"This is based on a change in public opinion," he said, adding that such trends may not indicate a change in China's foreign policy.

At the beginning of the Russian invasion, Chinese officials blamed the United States for the war and repeated Russian narratives about NATO, and Chinese diplomats and state media also broadcast Kremlin propaganda and conspiracy theories about Pentagon-funded biological weapons laboratories in Ukraine.

However, hours before Chinese leader Xi Jinping was going to discuss the war in Ukraine with President Joe Biden, Zhao Lijiang, a spokesman for China's Foreign Ministry, told reporters that the government was "deeply saddened by the growing civilian casualties."

"The main priority for all parties is to end hostilities, maintain restraint, ensure the security and basic humanitarian needs of the civilian population, as well as prevent a larger humanitarian crisis," he said.

It will be recalled that after today's conversations between the leaders of China and the United States, Xi Jinping said that both countries should not only direct their relations in the right direction but also assume international responsibility and work for peace and tranquility around the world.

"The Ukrainian crisis (the war unleashed by Russia – editor) is not what we want," Xi Jinping said.

It will be recalled that the Financial Times reported Russia asking China for military assistance to continue the invasion of Ukraine. The FT also claims that the United States has informed its allies in Europe and Asia that China has "shown readiness" to provide military support to Russia in its invasion of Ukraine. This information was later confirmed by US officials, who added that Washington would try to persuade Beijing not to interfere on Russia's side.

On March 14 in Rome, a seven-hour meeting between Yang Jiechi and US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan took place.

"We have made it very clear to Beijing, publicly and privately, that such support (Russia's aggression - will have consequences," said State Department spokesman Ned Price.

In turn, Yang Jiechi said that the situation in Ukraine has reached a point that China would not like to see.

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