Chinese news media posted instructions to social platforms about how to approach coverage on Ukraine, including a note of China’s need for Russian "support" with Taiwan.
One outlet appeared to accidentally post guidelines on what should and should not be published, while an editor from another outlet weighed in with guidance on language and approaches that he believed necessary in walking a fine line.
Ming Jinwei, senior editor at Xinhua News Agency according to The Washington Post, wrote in his WeChat blog about how his outlet needed to walk a tight line on its Ukraine coverage, noting that 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."
"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," his post read. Ming said that it "doesn’t hurt" to use moderately pro-Russia language.
And Horizon News, a social media account belonging to CCP-owned Beijing News, appeared to post similar instructions along with a note that no posts unfavorable to Russia or with pro-Western content should be published. The Horizon News post was later deleted, according to The Washington Post.
An amateur translation on Twitter claimed that the post said "From now on, for Ukraine-related topics, post them on Weibo. All post on Shimian first and then on our major account to promote Shimian. Don't post anything against Russia or pro-west. Let me review your words before posting."
Hu Xijin, former editor of the state-run Global Times, described Russia’s recognition of Donetsk and Luhansk regions as a measure to "break the deadlock" of the crisis in a way that showed "Russia’s strategic determination."
China and Russia have developed a tighter bond over the past few years – a relationship that has accelerated in the past few months. China only last week accused the United States of "playing up" the crisis on Ukraine’s border after Moscow claimed to have pulled back some of its 150,000 troops amassed in the region.
And the day before Russia’s recognition of the breakaway Ukrainian regions, Moscow and Beijing agreed on a new deal that would see Russia supply 100 million tons of coal to its southern neighbor in a move that could help to mitigate any sanctions enacted by the West.
On Tuesday, President Biden announced new sanctions against Russia, citing what he described as "the beginning of a Russian invasion of Ukraine," following reports of Russian troops entering two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine.
Robert L. Wilkie, former undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness during the Trump administration and visiting fellow at the Heritage Foundation, previously told Fox News Digital that China would play a role in mitigating any U.S. sanctions placed on Russia in the event Vladimir Putin authorizes any military action in Ukraine.
"A lot of the talk about economic sanctions is really a pie in the sky because China is now Russia’s banker," Wilkie said. "Xi Jinping will back Putin if sanctions from the West come."