Chinese Media’s Polarized Reports Over Russia-Ukraine War May Reflect Exacerbated Rift Within CCP

News Analysis

The Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP’s) media mouthpieces recently published polarized reports over the RussiaUkraine war, including a rare, positive interview with the Ukrainian Foreign Minister while at the same time persisting with its criticism of the United States. The contradictory articles on tightly controlled state platforms highlight the split in views at the CCP’s top echelon, experts said.

A May 3 opinion piece released on Guangming Daily, a Beijing-based official media, blamed the Russia-Ukraine war on a “U.S.-led NATO’s adherence to the Cold War mentality,” detailing “five charges” against the United States and NATO in the war.

The article was co-written by Xu Bu, president of the China Institute of International Studies, and Chen Wenbing, a contributing researcher at The Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy Research Center.

A few days before, Xinhua, another state mouthpiece, published an interview with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, which included four mentions of the previously rarely used word “invasion” to describe Russia’s actions, three of which cited Kuleba saying “Russian invasion of Ukraine.” The expression, asserting Russia’s incursion of Ukrainian territory as the war’s trigger, had been what the CCP and its mouthpiece media had tried to censor since the war began.

Notably, the Xinhua piece almost stood on Ukraine’s side, even mentioning Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s statement on supporting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.

The report also cited Kuleba saying that the escalating war between Russia and Ukraine is not on account of Ukraine, with is only exercising its right to self-defense.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has brought about the global food crisis and economic problems that will threaten China’s economy, it said, adding that Russia’s take over of Crimea and parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in 2014 has not only destroyed Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, but has also posed a serious challenge to the global security system, citing Kuleba.

Kuleba also said in the interview that Ukraine is a European country both geographically and historically, and that Russia’s assailing of Ukraine has led to Europe’s biggest instability today.

Kuleba expressed hopes that China will call for a ceasefire in Russia and be one of the guarantors of Ukraine’s security. “If Russia cannot be stopped now, it will cause more crises in a few years,” he said, according to the report.

Xinhua’s interview with Kuleba has sparked public concern because it completely shifted the viewpoints allowed as the CCP’s official attitude toward Russia, which has been an ally in the past months.

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the CCP has been placing itself beside Russia, including maintaining the same propaganda tone by telling the Chinese people that the Ukraine issue is “complex and special”—said CCP-run media Qstheory.

China’s Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng slashed on March 19 that it is “extremely immoral” of the United States and NATO to use Ukraine for “a proxy war over Russia.”

The two polarized views of the CCP’s official media might reflect the dilemma of a reluctant change of attitude among the CCP’s top powers in the face of unfavorable Russian military failures and coordinated Western pressure, said Li Yanming, a U.S.-based China expert and current affairs commentator.

But at the same time, Chinese official media have continued their line of wolf warrior diplomacy attacking the United States and NATO, which is revealing a contradictory stance of the CCP on the Russia-Ukraine war, and pointing to a split in the top echelon of the Communist Party, Li told The Epoch Times.

Li said the progress of the Russia-Ukraine war is affecting the top-level political game being played before the CCP’s 20th National Congress, adding more uncertainty to China’s political prospects.

Chen Pokong, a U.S.-based current affairs commentator, said on his YouTube program on May 3 that Xinhua News Agency’s publishing of the full text of its interview with Kuleba was not a simple action.

He said that while China is aware that its pro-Russian policy is not sustainable, as Russia has lost its military advantage over Ukraine, China’s state-owned enterprises and banks led by the State Council won’t accept Russia as a partner over fears of possible secondary sanctions from Western countries.

Therefore, the official media’s contradicting reports point to a considerable setback for current CCP leader Xi Jinping and his pro-Russia policies.

Xi will now have to face how to choose between Russia and Ukraine, Chen said.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.


Jessica Mao is a writer for The Epoch Times with a focus on China-related topics. She began writing for the Chinese-language edition in 2009.

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