China has accused the U.S. of creating the conditions for the war in Ukraine. It is so far China’s strongest condemnation of the U.S. with regard to the latter’s role in the conflict.
The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a press briefing earlier this week that while the U.S. could be pursuing peace and formal talks between Russia and Ukraine, it is instead busy playing “world police” and further fueling the conflict – while at the same time trying to confront China.
This scathing criticism by Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian marked the first time that Beijing bluntly said the U.S. started or created the Ukraine war.
“The U.S. needs to facilitate a proper settlement of the crisis in a responsible way and create the environment and conditions needed for peace talks between the parties concerned,” the official transcript said.
Zhao also noted that their opposition of the U.S. represents their objective and fair stance, adding that China stands on the side of peace and justice. (Related: IMF: Russia-Ukraine war may FUNDAMENTALLY ALTER economic, political order worldwide.)
He also addressed the accusations made by the Biden administration that the Chinese government is behind the scenes in assisting Moscow in both evading Western sanctions and supplying military hardware. Going back to the invasion’s opening month, the Department of State‘s Ned Price also threatened China with a “very steep price” if Beijing is caught helping Moscow.
Zhao said they firmly oppose any unwarranted suspicion, threat and pressure targeting China, adding that they are “also firmly against unilateral illegal sanctions and long-arm jurisdiction with no basis in international law.”
Finally, Zhao urged U.S. officials to stop playing up bloc confrontation and creating a new Cold War and instead help in providing the right conditions for a ceasefire and a peaceful settlement in Ukraine.
Despite portraying itself as a neutral party in the war against Ukraine, the message China communicates to its audience tells a different story. Specifically, state outlets are doubling down on reports that the U.S. is funding the development of biological weapons in Ukraine, including the spread of migratory birds that could bring avian viruses in Russia.
Since the beginning of the hostilities, one theme that has remained consistent in the Chinese media is that the U.S. is the villain, with a few Chinese journalists reporting from the ground found to be parroting Russia’s favored news lines.
Another overarching theme of Chinese state media coverage is the depiction of the U.S. as the instigator of the conflict, which is part of a broader narrative.
“It’s a proxy information war that China is waging here. In the long term, it’s about undermining the credibility of the U.S. and the U.S.-led international system,” David Bandurski, co-director of the China Media Project said. (Related: Financial pressures rise worldwide as governments witness the unfolding of the Russia-Ukraine crisis.)
A state tabloid also created the hashtag, #UkraineCrisisInstigator to describe the U.S. and NATO early on, accusing Washington of being the real aggressor working behind the scenes.
Still, despite state media feeding the information, public sentiment has always been there.
“People worship Putin because he is aligned with Xi Jinping. They share the same strongman image and governance style,” said Hu Qingxin, a media veteran now based in Hong Kong.
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