The Chinese Communist government has ordered news and social media outlets to avoid posting anything critical of Russia or favourable to NATO. The moves come after Russia launched a “full-scale invasion” of Ukraine.
The Chinese Communist Party’s central propaganda department, the China Digital Times, posted a directive to Weibo reading, “With immediate effect, regarding all Weibo posts about Ukraine: Horizon News to post first [on this topic], to be reposted by other major accounts.”
“No pro-Western posts, no posts critical of Russia. All initial copy to be reviewed by us [the CCP propaganda department] prior to posting,” the order, quoted by a video account linked to the Beijing News, said.
“Comments must be selectively moderated, and only appropriate comments must be published,” the post read. “Anyone publishing content will be deemed responsible for it, and genuine care must be taken. Each post much be watched for at least two days, and great care must be taken when handing over [to the incoming shift].”
The Chinese leak may have been deliberate and intended for Russia to recognize China’s support in its Ukrainian campaign.
As detailed by Radio Free Asia, the order, which was published under the propaganda outlets “Ministry of Truth” column, said all topics should be confined to stories already published by Xinhua, the People’s Daily and CCTV, other state-run news organizations.
Former Beijing News founding editor Cheng Yizhong confirmed the order was real.
“This is a multimedia account managed by the Beijing News … and it doesn’t just apply to them, but to other media as well,” Cheng said. “It’s always the case during a major international conflict that only opinions from Xinhua, CCTV and the People’s Daily may be published.”
“It’s one size fits all,” Cheng said.
A senior Chinese journalist who spoke to Radio Free Asia under the condition of anonymity said the directive is necessary because some Chinese nationalists hold grievances against Russia, including the claim that Russia occupies “huge swathes of Chinese territory.”
The journalist insisted that the propaganda directive was likely posted in error.
“Anti-Russian comments won’t get through on social media … even the comments will be cleaned up,” the journalist said. “The attitude of intellectuals hasn’t changed, but any criticism of Russia gets deleted from Weibo.”
The journalist added that Chinese investors generally avoid investing in Russia.
The Chinese directive follows days of verbal support by the Chinese government to its counterparts in the Kremlin, by blaming the United States as the “culprit” behind the ongoing hostilities between Russia and Ukraine.
“Lately the US has been sending weapons to Ukraine, heightening tensions, creating panic and even hyping up the possibility of warfare,” said Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hua Chunying. “If someone keeps pouring oil on the flames while accusing others of not doing their best to put out the fire, such kind of behaviour is clearly irresponsible and immoral.”