China’s state media have recently delivered positive reports on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, a sudden tone change from earlier.
The sudden change came after the United States and European countries pledged to impose additional sanctions against Russia following its invasion of Ukraine.
According to Germany news outlet DW, the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on May 4 outlined the sixth round of sanctions on Russia. The new measures will see a ban on Russian supplies of crude oil within six months.
They also include an expulsion of Russia’s largest bank, Sberbank, from the SWIFT international banking payment system.
In the United States, President Joe Biden also said on the same day that he would talk to the G7 group leaders about more potential sanctions against Russia.
China has signaled a clearer reversal in its viewpoint amid such moves from the U.S. and EU.
According to Da Ji Yuan News, many Chinese official media, including CCTV, on May 5 reported on Zelenskiy in a positive manner.
For example, they reported that Zelenskiy had a phone conversation with UN Secretary-General António Guterres, that Switzerland prepared for Zelenskiy’s possible attendance at a reform conference in Ukraine, and that Zelenskiy said a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin would lead to a real ceasefire.
On May 3, Xinhua News Agency’s digital newspaper reprinted an article by Spanish media outlet El País namely, “How does Zelenskiy govern the country in a bunker?”
The article describes how the Ukrainian president has responded to the media, stayed focused on the war situation, and presided over meetings in underground bunkers since Russia invaded his country.
China’s state media reports marked a difference from the recent campaign when they have portrayed Zelenskiy as a clown, a comedian.
According to Da Ji Yuan News, the top leaders in Beijing have made fine-tuning under pressure.
Their media have made those changes in their reports as the 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party is approaching. They may be worried that if China is punished for supporting Russia, it may also trigger sanctions against themselves and cause the Chinese economy to collapse.
Feng Chongyi, an associate professor at the University of Technology Sydney, said that the Chinese regime just wants to make some small moves in the short term.
They make concessions on the point that the U.S. and EU have been forcing it to express its belief that Russia is invading Ukraine, but they will not give up support for Russia.
Feng added that China is still secretly supporting Russia.