The Russian invasion is clearly making headlines globally - but how it is being portrayed by the media in East and West, is a different conversation altogether.
According to research by CARMA Asia, using qualitative media analysis, 400 news articles reported by the US and Chinese media outlets on the first day of military action, findings indicate that while Chinese media outlets primarily focused news coverage on the impact of people in Ukraine and the political implications, US media coverage was primarily centred on the leadership styles of both Ukraine and Russia’s leaders - and the introduction of sanctions.
(Read also: Russia-Ukraine conflict: A running list of brands taking action)
News coverage also indicated that the US media outlets were far more likely to criticise Putin than Chinese media (50% versus 2%). In the US, Putin was also often quoted as a way to validate Biden’s position and quotes frequently framed Putin as the aggressor. While US media quoted both Biden and Putin extensively, in China, Ukraine president Zelenskyy was the leading spokesperson to be quoted in Chinese media.
Here are some other key findings from CARMA:
- 70% of Chinese news conveyed that China has no clear position on the conflict.
- US media outlets focused on sanctions and leadership four times more than Chinese media.
- US media outlets were far more likely to condemn Russia than the Chinese media (56% versus 12%).
- Chinese media reported from a neutral stance, with “military action” being the most common description of the conflict (40% of coverage). In contrast, US media outlets described it as an “invasion” (88% of articles), whereas this term was only seen in 10% of Chinese coverage.
Meanwhile, Chinese social media platforms also clamped down hard on inappropriate comments by netizens made around the conflict. According to the South China Morning Post, Tencent published a statement on WeChat, saying that "individuals took the opportunity to post objectionable information about global news events." The post later was shared by a unit of the Cyberspace Administration of China.
Moreover, Weibo said it had removed 242 blog posts and 359 comments, as well as banned 83 accounts violating regulations of the platform. On the other hand, Douyin said it "handled" 6,400 videos violating the rules and halted 1,620 livestreaming events.
According to reports, due to some of the comments made by netizens, Chinese citizens in Ukraine faced an anti-China sentiment. Ukrainian media reports also said that China "supported Russia to invade Ukraine" and that Chinese netizens had left vulgar comments around "taking in beautiful Ukrainian ladies". However, some netizens in China called out such comments for being insensitive.
After the surge of anti-China sentiment, Tencent and Douyin banned accounts leaving vulgar comments. Chinese authorities have as such called for caution over online comments about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Photo courtesy: 123RF
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