When Twitter put up a warning message atop a Russian government post denying civilian killings in Bucha, Ukraine, last week, China’s state media rushed to its defense. “On Twitter @mfa_russia’s statement on #Bucha got censored,” wrote Frontline, a Twitter account associated with China’s official English-language broadcaster, CGTN.
In a Chinese Communist Party newspaper, an article declared that Russians had offered definitive evidence to prove that the lurid photos of bodies in the streets of Bucha, a suburb of Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, were a hoax.
A party television station in Shanghai said Ukraine’s government had created the grisly tableaux to win sympathy in the West. “Obviously, such evidence would not be admissible in court,” the report said.
Only a month ago, the White House warned China not to amplify Russia’s campaign to sow disinformation about the war in Ukraine. The Chinese efforts have intensified anyway, contradicting and disputing the policies of NATO capitals, even as Russia faced renewed condemnation for the killings in Bucha and other atrocities in recent days.
The result has been to create an alternate reality of the war — not just for the consumption of China’s citizens but also for a global audience.
The propaganda has challenged the Western efforts to isolate Russia diplomatically, particularly in the Middle East, Africa and Latin America, which have been fertile ground for conspiracy theories and distrust of the United States.