As the world reacts with horror to Bush, China’s state media has a different tone

Editor’s note: A version of this story appeared on CNN’s news bulletin at the same time in China, a three-times-week update that explores what you need to know about the country’s rise and how it’s affecting the world. Register here.


horrific pictures appear Civilian bodies scattered in the streets The Bucha district, a suburb of the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, has sparked global panic in recent days and increased the urgency of ongoing investigations into alleged Russian war crimes. But an entirely different narrative is emerging in China’s state-run media.

There, local media reports on Civilian casualties in Bucha They were quick to underline the Russian response, with two prominent televised reports from national radio CCTV this week highlighting unfounded claims from Moscow that the situation has been set in motion after the withdrawal of Russian forces from the area.

In one report, a comment citing Russia with the phrase “Ukrainians put in a good show,” flashed over very blurry footage of the Ukrainian city.

There is no evidence to suggest that this is the case. Satellite images indicate that some of the bodies have been there since at least March 18, while eyewitnesses said The massacre started weeks ago.

Separately, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said on Tuesday that the horrific photos from Boucha showed “all indications” that civilians were “directly targeted and killed”. On Tuesday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres added to growing international calls for a war crimes investigation into the deaths of civilians in the town.

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The allegations of war crimes raise risks for China’s position. Beijing’s apparent promotion of Russian propaganda is consistent with its position Since the beginning of the invasion, It also refused to condemn Russia – At home or in his diplomacy – even as the civilian death toll mounts.

Instead, Beijing has sought to portray itself as a neutral actor, calling for peace in the meantime Blame the situation on the United States.

This was featured in an editorial published in the nationalist tabloid Global Times on Wednesday, which appeared to question the veracity of what it called, in quotes, the “Bucha incident” and absolved Russia of responsibility.

“It is unfortunate that after the revelation of the ‘Bucha incident’, the United States, the initiator of the Ukraine crisis, has not shown any signs of urging peace and promoting talks, but is prepared to exacerbate tensions between Russia and Ukraine,” the editorial said.

“No matter how the ‘Bucha Incident’ occurred, no one can deny at least one thing: the war itself is the main culprit of the human catastrophe,” she added.

Rising tensions with the United States have brought Moscow and Beijing closer in recent years, with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping declaring their countries’ partnership “limitless” just weeks before the Russian invasion.

Since the Russian invasion, Beijing has Under a lot of pressure To denounce Russia’s actions and join the world in imposing sanctions. Instead, Chinese officials refused to use the term invasion to describe Russia’s actions, repeatedly saying they would go their own way when it came to their response.

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At a special session of the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday, Chinese Ambassador Zhang Jun acknowledged that the images of civilian deaths in Bucha were “extremely disturbing”, but when it came to blaming the situation, he urged “all sides” to “exercise restraint”. And avoid baseless accusations.”

“The relevant circumstances and specific causes of the accident must be verified and proven. Any accusations must be based on facts,” Zhang said.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin made similar remarks at a regular press conference on Wednesday, saying “humanitarian issues should not be politicized.”

“All parties should exercise restraint and avoid baseless accusations” before the fact-finding is completed, Wang said, adding that China “is willing to continue working with the international community to avoid any harm to civilians.”

But at home, China has been broadcasting a clearer message, one that ties into a longer history of Russian and Chinese state media that reinforce each other’s narratives — on issues such as the treatment of Russian opponents, Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests, and the origins of Covid-19 — as they seek to refute officials’ characterizations. and Western media.

In an example of such interference on Tuesday, China’s state news agency published a post on the Twitter-like social media platform Weibo with the hashtag, “Russia shows video to prove Bucha incident was orchestrated,” citing a report from Russia’s state news agency.

But even as China amplifies Russian rhetoric in its reporting at home, some public displays of skepticism can be seen, even on ultra-moderate Chinese social media platforms.

In a recent example, a widely followed military blogger wrote on Sunday that Ukrainians were responsible for a “massacre” of civilians – but several users in the comments below indicated that the post’s details were wrong.

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