China news 4th April 2022
Chinese and English media have had different focuses in news coverage, as unsurprising as it seems, the divergence also appears in how the recent Sino-US head of state talks are presented.
The first difference occurs even in terms of who initiated the talk. Regarding the phone call between Xi Jinping and Biden, the Xinhua News Agency’s press release was only one line: “Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying announced: President Xi Jinping will meet U.S. President Biden on the evening of 18 March, Beijing time, to discuss Sino-U.S. relationship and exchange of views on issues of mutual concern.” There are two words in it: “Upon invitation” is very interesting. But a Reuters reporter asked which side initiated the call; and the White House spokesman responded very diplomatically: ‘The United States and China shared a proposal during their talks in Rome.’
The second point is the description of the general atmosphere of the presidential conversation. Xinhua News Agency wrote that Xi and Biden had a ‘candid and in-depth exchange of views’. (Note: ‘candid exchange of views’, in the Chinese diplomatic language, implies a starkly different standpoint, communication usually does not go well when such phrase is used.)
For the basic framework of the bilateral relationship, China state media further points out that ‘The desire for an era of peace and development is facing severe challenges, and the world is neither developing nor peaceful. As a permanent member of the UN Security Council and the world’s two largest economies, we must not only lead the development of China-US relations on the right track, but also shoulder our due international responsibilities and make efforts for world peace and tranquillity.’
However, Xi Jinping pointed out that, at present, China-US relations have not yet emerged from the dilemma created by the previous US administration, but instead encountered more and more challenges. Thus China is attempting to put the blame on someone else other than the Biden administration, creating a leeway for the US to amend ties with China. As long as it isn’t the will of the current leadership, there could still be hope for changes. This ‘wavelength’ is further elaborated by Xi’s reminder on the Taiwan issue. Xi Jinping said:
This resulted in a misjudgement. In the Chinese official rhetoric, though it may not be easily comprehended and appreciated by people in the West, it means a demonstration of respect to the leader in an organisation.
The third aspect is their understanding on the most pressing global issue. Regarding Russian-Ukrainian issue, President Xi made it clear to Biden that ‘The United States and NATO should also conduct a dialogue with Russia to solve the crux of the Ukraine crisis and resolve the security concerns of both Russia and Ukraine.’ Relevant events once again show that international relationships cannot go to the stage of war. We must show political courage under any circumstances, create space for peace and leave room for political settlement. There are two old sayings in China, one is “a slap (on a bell) won’t ring”. The other is “the person who ties the bell must ring the bell”. (This is an old Chinese proverb, saying literally: ‘The person who removes the bell from the tiger’s neck must be the one who put it there.’ In effect – the only one who can fix a problem is the one who caused it.)
Xi Jinping’s answer was ambiguous. It seemed that he was neither willing to incur serious consequences for defending Russia, but also reluctant to distance himself from Russia. “A slap in the face” reflects his ambiguous stance.
This is in stark contrast with the US narrative on the Russian-Ukrainian topic. According to a White House briefing hours later, as expected, Biden told Xi unmistakably that there would be serious consequences if China provided substantial support to Russia as Russia continued its brutal attacks on Ukrainian cities and civilians. However, in the articles published by the Chinese state media, CCTV and Xinhua News Agency, it is not clear that Xi Jinping has responded to this. The report from the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the report from China CCTV did not mention that what was happening in Ukraine was a “war”, and at most used words such as “crisis”, “situation” and “conflict”.
We took this report from several news sources in the Mainland and Hong Kong.
Another item that captured our attention is the internal civil divergence over the Russian-Ukrainian issue among Chinese netizens, showing us another dynamism with which the rest of the world may not be fully acquainted.
From the perspective of China’s national interests, at present China and Russia are good friends to jointly fight against the hegemony of the United States. If Russia is sanctioned by the United States and Europe, and the Russian-Ukrainian war ends in Russia’s defeat, Moscow will lose its might and mental strength to compete with the United States. After that, the next target the United States has to deal with is China. Without Russia and China jointly fighting against American hegemony, it is conceivable that China will face enormous pressure from the United States in the future, which is full of risks. Therefore, in order to prevent Russia from falling, China should support Russia, help Russia tide over the difficulties, and continue to fight against American hegemony with China in the future. The only countries in the world that can compete with US hegemony are Russia and China.
However, the anti-Russian faction in China does not agree with the pro-Russian faction. Anti-Russian factions believe that aggression is aggression, and no reason can justify aggression. Ukraine is an independent country and one of the member states of the United Nations. It has the right to choose which organization to join and the right to make friends with the EU and NATO. Russia has no right to interfere, let alone bully the weak and use military aggression to force Ukraine to give up its membership in NATO. This is a violation of the UN Charter and international justice, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine must be severely punished.
From the perspective of China’s national interests, China’s support of Russia’s aggression at the expense of the world will make China lose its moral commanding heights in the world, and it is not conducive to China’s establishment of a peaceful, friendly, fair, just, and responsible big country image. Therefore, Europe and the United States will also look down on China and even be hostile to China, which is not conducive to the development of constructive and friendly relations between China and Europe and the United States. Europe and the United States are still leaders in global science and technology, and China still needs to learn advanced science and technology from Europe and the United States. It must not become too proud with Europe and the United States, let alone go into mutual hostility. Making friends with Europe and the United States is the strategic choice that best serves China’s national interests.
it is normal for China to have pro-Russian, anti-Russian, pro-American, and anti-American factions. This shows that China has maintained the vitality of its thinking and has room for a hundred schools of thought to contend, which is a good thing for China. Many of the sparks of human thought and inspiration for creation are generated in debates and debates. China maintains debates with different ideas and viewpoints, which is conducive to China’s positive and creative attitude to understand the world and all things, so that Chinese society will always be full of vitality.
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