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A state-run Chinese news outlet has accidentally revealed plans to censor coverage of the Russia's military actions in Ukraine, after mistakenly posting instructions on social media.
Horizon News — an offshoot of The Beijing News newspaper, which is owned by the Chinese Communist Party — shared a post on Weibo that appeared to contain information from a senior editor on how staff should report on the ongoing tensions between Ukraine and Russia.
A translation of the post shared by China Digital Times reads, 'Do not post anything unfavorable to Russia or pro-Western.'
Detailed censorship instructions for dissemination of reports and comments on the Russian-Ukraine conflict, mistakenly leaked⬇️⬇️⬇️— 𝐋𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐋𝐢 (@lingli_vienna) February 22, 2022
*Shimian account belongs to 新京报 (Beijing News).
*人新央 refers to, presumably, People's Daily, Xinhua Agency & CCTV. pic.twitter.com/VoZSj08goS
It also instructs staff managing the Weibo account to 'carry out selection and control of comments' and to only use hashtags approved by the CCP's major national news organisations. The post has since been deleted from Weibo.
Chinese news outlets and social media platforms are subject to heavy censorship from the government, with the majority of news publications reflecting the Communist Party's views in what they publish. In Russia, news outlets have similarly been accused of censorship and spreading misinformation about the situation in Ukraine.
As two of the world's major powers, China and Russia have strengthened ties in recent years, while at the same time tensions between the two countries and the West have ratcheted up.
Officially, Chinese officials have remained measured in their response to the crisis, with Foreign Minister Wang Yi calling on both Russia and Ukraine to 'exercise restraint' and stressing that the 'sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of any country should be respected and safeguarded'.
However, the Washington Post reports that Beijing has criticised NATO and the United States for provoking Russia, while a number of high-profile voices in Chinese media have been more explicit in their support for Russia's aims.
In a blog post, former Global Times editor Hu Xijin wrote that Putin's recognition of two separatist areas in Ukraine would 'break the deadlock' in the crisis, and praised the Russian leader's 'strategic determination'.
Ming Jinwei, a popular commentator and senior editor at Xinhua News Agency, wrote that Chinese diplomats were engaged in a balancing act, saying, 'Simply put, China has to back Russia up with emotional and moral support while refraining from treading on the toes of the United States and European Union.'
He added, 'In the future, China will also need Russia’s understanding and support when wrestling with America to solve the Taiwan issue once and for all.'
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