Chinese state media outlet shows support for Russia war on Ukraine

In a strikingly public show of support for Russia’s war on Ukraine, China’s Global Times state media outlet feted Russia’s annual Victory Day celebration on Thursday.

Victory Day, a celebration of the Soviet Union’s legitimately heroic victory over Nazi Germany, sees an annual Russian military parade and address by Vladimir Putin. Today, however, the Kremlin uses Victory Day as a propaganda tool to boost support for its war in Ukraine. It falsely presents that war as a successor to the just war against Nazi Germany. For this reason, many nations no longer send high-level delegations to the parade. China, however, is very happy to offer its support.

As the Global Times put it, “Neither the recent deadly Moscow terror attack, nor the smoke of conflict on the Ukrainian frontline has affected the celebratory atmosphere in Russia, as the country has found a unique path to national industrial revival under suffocating Western sanctions.” Interviewing two pro-Putin young people who claim their lives are better under sanctions, the Global Times then quoted a Chinese military analyst, Zhang Junshe. According to Zhang, the parade “showcased Russia’s military capabilities and demonstrates its defiance against Western pressure amid the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. The parade serves as a deterrent to NATO and highlights Russia’s resolve to continue the fight.”

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This reportage and analysis doesn’t exactly support Xi Jinping’s insistence that China adopts a neutral stance to the war in Ukraine. On the contrary, this propaganda pageant shows that the Sino-Russian “no limits partnership” is vested in a shared sense of animus toward the West and all those who associate with Western democratic values. That shared animus underlines why China continues to provide critical trade flows to Russia, which are helping Putin’s government mitigate the impact of sanctions and sustain its war effort. Above and below the surface, Sino-Russian military cooperation is growing in tandem.

It’s easy to write off Chinese Communist propaganda as Xi’s veritable whistling in the wind. But sometimes, as here, that propaganda shows the true nature of Beijing’s agenda. It thus serves as a useful reminder that leaders such as Emmanuel Macron and Olaf Scholz are deluding themselves in the belief that close cooperation with China is compatible with European security.

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