The Shanghai branch of the Communist Party newspaper People’s Daily on February 27, 2022.
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BEIJING — In China, tightly controlled coverage of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has focused heavily on negotiations.
Beijing’s line has been to promote negotiations, as China attempts to position itself further away from Russia than portrayed in early February during a high-profile meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
As the Ukrainian delegation arrived at the Belarusian border for a first round of talks with Russia on Monday, Chinese state media was quick to update and even broadcast the proceedings live. State media had reported on Xi’s call with Putin on Friday night, which emphasized the Russian leader’s willingness to negotiate.
When the war began on Thursday, China’s foreign ministry maintained its focus on negotiations. And although he said China didn’t like what he saw, he refused to call the attack an invasion.
State Media Coverage
Chinese state media have instead used the term “special military operations”. The daily evening news from the state broadcaster CCTV mentioned the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, but mostly in a brief segment towards the end of the roughly half-hour show in a section on international current affairs.
Again, the war discussion focused more on negotiation efforts, and less on attacking Russia.
While the official Xinhua news agency published visual reports on Ukrainian refugees, some published by the Communist Party newspaper People’s Daily purported to show the refugees arriving at the eastern border with Russia.
Xinhua has occasionally broadcast live from Kyiv, mostly about the lives of local residents amid the “conflict”.
The Chinese Embassy in Ukraine also released a nearly 10-minute video of Ambassador Fan Xianrong over the weekend, in which he says he was in Kyiv and heard sirens, explosions and Gunshots.
Chinese Minister Wang Yi said during a call with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Tuesday that China was “deeply saddened” to see the conflict, according to an official statement in English from the Chinese Foreign Ministry. Local media carried the Chinese version of the reading, which also said the call was focused on evacuating Chinese citizens.
State-run financial media discussed the impact of the war on commodity prices and markets.
But as is often the case in China, the media focused heavily on Xi’s speeches and national events.
Beijing is focusing on what is usually a politically sensitive time of year – a largely symbolic gathering of delegates in the capital to approve the GDP growth target, the national budget and other policy measures. The main meeting should start on Saturday and last at least a week.
Talking about China-US relations
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine coincided with the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of US President Richard Nixon’s trip to China and a thaw in US relations with Beijing.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang stressed the importance of US-China relations and the need to promote cooperation and return to a “right” path, according to comments carried by Chinese state media.
However, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokespersons have accused the United States of heightening Russian-Ukrainian tensions, and daily evening reports by state media have called the United States a failure to manage the pandemic and maintain stability in the Middle East.
At a press conference on Tuesday, China’s Ministry of Commerce did not answer any questions from reporters about trade with Russia, Ukraine or the United States.