How China Is Censoring the War in Ukraine

Kai Wang “Ukraine: How China is censoring online discussion of the war”


Posts expressing partisan views have been removed on a daily basis - both for and against Russian military action.

"No-one dares to stand with Ukraine right now," wrote one person on Weibo, China's Twitter equivalent. "It's all one-sided support for Russia."

This was removed along with many others like it, according to Free Weibo, which tracks Chinese censorship online.

And a retired Russian general's open letter calling on President Vladimir Putin to step down - shared on the WeChat messaging app prior to the war - has now been blocked.

Some views in support of Russia have also been suppressed.

A "thank you" note posted by the official Weibo account of Russia's state-controlled news network RT, expressing gratitude to the Chinese for their support, was taken down, as was this Weibo post: "I'm glad that Russia has taken the initiative to undertake the difficult task of fighting the neo-Nazis in Ukraine. The sanctions imposed on Russia are unacceptable."


Doublethink Lab*2, which has been tracking disinformation attempts in real time, has pointed out the Chinese media are "regularly quoting disinformation and conspiracy theories from Russian sources".

False claims, such as that the Ukrainians set fire to their own nuclear plant, are repeated by Chinese media with little attempt to challenge them.

There is also very little reporting on the resistance from the Ukraine side nor the wider Western response to Russia's invasion.

"In my view, the censorship over Ukraine content is imbalanced... with comments and voices that run counter to the official [Chinese] position being much more heavily targeted than other views," Ms Cook says.

Where criticism of events in Ukraine does appear, it is often directed at the United States, placing the blame on it for fanning the flames of the conflict.

In one article published in China's Global Times, the US is accused of profiteering from selling weapons to Ukraine.

In another, the US is accused of releasing "disinformation on the Ukraine crisis to smear China".


Russia's state-controlled media have a long-standing presence in mainland China, where most foreign news websites are either blocked or heavily censored.

Outlets such as Sputnik have 11.6 million followers on Weibo and are often quoted by Chinese official media as a source in their coverage of the conflict.