China is Russia’s most powerful weapon for information warfare
By Elizabeth Dwoskin
April 8th 2022
Tech giants and governments have crippled Russian state media, but Chinese outlets push the same talking points.
Russian propaganda about the war in Ukraine cratered last month after Russian state news channels were blocked in Europe and restricted globally. But in recent weeks, China has emerged as a potent outlet for Kremlin disinformation, researchers say, portraying Ukraine and NATO as the aggressors and sharing false claims about neo-Nazi control of the Ukrainian government.
With over a billion followers on Facebook alone, China’s state-controlled channels offer Russian President Vladimir Putin a powerful megaphone for shaping global understanding of the war — often called a “special operation” in line with Kremlin rhetoric. Since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, researchers say, Chinese channels have touted the false claim that the United States runs bioweapons labs in Ukraine, have asserted that Ukrainian neo-Nazis bombed a children’s hospital which was in fact bombed by Russian troops, and have suggested that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was being manipulated by U.S. billionaire George Soros.