China in media blackout as only ONE aspect of Ukraine conflict reported in newspapers

BBC Chinese Media Analyst Kerry Allen explained Chinese newspapers are barely mentioning what is happening in Ukraine and any coverage of the conflict mainly focuses on peace talks in Belarus. Ms Allen remarked the two countries had enjoyed a close relationship but believed China was seeking to “deescalate” the situation there after it refused to condemn Russia for the invasion. It comes as officials in Joe Biden’s government told NBC News that Russia had asked China for military support but did not divulge in what was asked nor whether it was granted.

Speaking to BBC 5 Live, Ms Allen explained how Chinese media was reacting to the Ukraine conflict as fears grow over President Xi’s involvement in the war.

She explained: “The thing that is absolutely fascinating is opening Chinese newspapers, watching Chinese TV today and [Ukraine] is barely being covered at all.

“There’s very sparing mention of the crisis that’s happening in Ukraine, it has been covered in the last two to three weeks, there has been prominent coverage.

“But it’s largely focused on the talks that have taken place in Belarus, there hasn’t been so much emphasis, media coverage, on the devastation that’s taken place in Ukraine.”

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Presenter Nicky Campbell pondered whether there was a “shift” in the relationship between Russia and China with the latter finding the Ukraine conflict “disruptive”.

Ms Allen agreed and said: “I think very much the case, the Foreign Ministry spokesman said that China sees the most urgent task right now is exercising restraint and de-escalating the tense situation.

“But there’s been this avoidance of mentioning Russia and mentioning Putin and we have to remember that before all this started, President Putin and President Xi Jinping met in Beijing for the Olympics and there was a red carpet rollout.

“The two are very, very close, Russian media has a long term presence in China and there is this relationship that goes back decades that’s very, very strong.”

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Reports of China’s involvement in Ukraine came as US national security advisor Jake Sullivan met with Chinese senior diplomat Yan Jiechi on Monday.

Mr Sullivan warned there would be action if Russia was attempting to circumnavigate Western sanctions by working with China.

He told CNN: “We are communicating directly, privately to Beijing, that there will absolutely be consequences for large-scale sanctions evasion efforts or support to Russia to backfill them.”

A Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson said the story was a result of “disinformation” and denied it was helping Russia.

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A statement said: “We will not allow that to go forward and allow there to be a lifeline to Russia from these economic sanctions from any country, anywhere in the world.”

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also denied the reports it was relying on China.

He said: “Russia possesses its own independent potential to continue the operation. As we said, it is going according to plan and will be completed on time and in full.”

China has refused to condemn Russia for its invasion of Ukraine and was one of 35 countries that abstained from a United Nations vote doing so.

Ukraine and Russia will be holding more talks next week after a fourth round of negotiations ended with no result.

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