Here’s what Chinese state media is saying ahead of Xi’s call with Biden

Chess pieces are seen in front of the Chinese and American flags displayed in this illustration taken on January 25, 2022.

Dado Ruvic | Reuters

BEIJING — As Chinese state media has moved away from mostly pro-Russian coverage of the war in Ukraine, one consistent message remains: Blame the United States.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Joe Biden are due to speak on Friday evening Beijing time on bilateral relations and “matters of common interest”, Chinese state media announced it on Thursday evening.

The call would mark the first official contact between the US and Chinese presidents since Russia invaded Ukraine in late February.

Much of the Chinese media coverage has since focused on the negotiations between Russia and Ukraine, without portraying the conflict as an invasion or a war. China’s Foreign Ministry declined to call Russia’s attack on Ukraine an invasion, but accused the United States of “fuelling” tensions.

This criticism persisted.

The People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the Communist Party of China, put a headline about the upcoming Xi-Biden appeal in a prominent, bold location on the right side of its website’s front page on Friday.

Several lines below was an editorial board article: “Standing to ‘double standards’ will only ruin US credibility,” according to the headline, according to a CNBC translation of the Chinese text.

In an overnight news program on Thursday, China’s state-run television noted that the United States planned to send $800 million in military aid to Ukraine, and included clips of Putin blaming Western countries. to be responsible for global inflation.

The show closed by quoting unnamed analysts warning that the US Federal Reserve’s decision to raise interest rates at a time of high inflation and uncertainty only adds to the risk of default. global.

As is the case with most Chinese state media, the half-hour news broadcast focused primarily on domestic affairs, including China’s own ability to control the recent outbreak. of Covid-19.

State media announcements on the Xi-Biden appeal did not specifically mention Ukraine, while White House announcement included it as a planned discussion topic.

Accounts of contacts between high-level US and Chinese officials have tended to separate US-China relations from discussions between the two countries over the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi stressed last week how China-Russia relations were as strong as when Xi and Russian President Vladimir Putin met and issued a joint statement in early February.

More discussion on the humanitarian crisis

Beijing has tried to portray itself as having a relationship with Russia while working with European countries and other nations to broker peace, especially in the face of an increase sanctions against Russia by the United States, the EU and other countries.

“Beijing’s support for Moscow is mostly rhetorical,” consultancy firm Teneo said in a March 10 report.

On Friday, Gabriel Wildau, senior vice president of Teneo, noted a change in that rhetoric. “In recent days, there have been signs of a shift in media coverage of the state, which may reflect Beijing’s attempt to distance itself from Moscow.”

He highlighted how China’s English-language state-run television channel highlighted civilian casualties of Russian attacks, and the Chinese-language channel reported on the battlefield successes of the Ukrainian military.

This reflects more detail than Chinese official media has provided in the past on the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine. As of Wednesday, at least 780 civilians have been killed – including 58 children – since the Russian attack began on February 24, according to United Nations data.

Last week, Beijing announced a “six-point initiative” to prevent a large-scale humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, and Prime Minister Li Keqiang said China was “deeply concerned” about the situation in Ukraine.

The Chinese media’s slight move away from predominantly Muscovite messages has also targeted an American audience.

In one op-ed published in the Washington Post Speaking in English on Wednesday, Qin Gang, China’s ambassador to the United States, said “claims that China knew about, condoned, or tacitly supported this war are pure disinformation.”

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Most prominently, The New York Times early on March 3 Beijing time quoted US and European officials saying senior Chinese officials told their Russian counterparts in early February not to invade Ukraine until after the Winter Olympics in Beijing that month.

Qin said on Wednesday that there were more than 6,000 Chinese citizens in Ukraine.

“The conflict between Russia and Ukraine does China no good,” he said. “If China had been aware of the impending crisis, we would have done our best to prevent it.”

Macquarie and Morgan Stanley analysts cited the editorial as a contributing factor to Wednesday’s rally in Hong Kong and mainland China stocks.

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