Technology Companies in China Show Support in Russia’s Attack in Ukraine; Poses Difficult Issues for Foreign Investors

Xi Jinping and Putin
Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin

The invasion of Ukraine has tarnished the role of private technology companies like Tencent, Sina Weibo, and ByteDance in spreading government propaganda, providing serious compliance difficulties for foreign investors.

Technology companies in China back Putin’s agenda

China’s technology companies are boosting content supporting Russian President Vladimir Putin’s attack on Ukraine while blocking posts supporting Kyiv, potentially contradicting business and social responsibility commitments, and public pronouncements opposing the war.

According to Financial Times, Beijing and Moscow both blamed the United States in the early stages of the conflict. There were allegations circulated in China that Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky had fled Kyiv and that the Ukrainian military had given up their weapons. This week, a representative for China’s foreign ministry and state media echoed Russian disinformation about US-run biological laboratories in Ukraine that contain huge numbers of hazardous viruses.

Félix Boudreault, managing director of Sustainable Market Strategies, environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) investment research organization, said that many of the most popular companies with investors were subject to rigorous state regulations. Since Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, China’s propaganda control apparatus has been on full display. Following their meeting at the Beijing Winter Olympics, Putin, and President Xi Jinping pledged a “no limits” relationship.

The official Chinese narrative on the war blames the west and Nato for dragging Putin into it. This viewpoint has been widely spread via state media and technological platforms like Tencent, Sina Weibo, and Douyin. Officials, state media, and a chorus of nationalist influencers routinely accept Moscow’s talking points and run on Chinese platforms.

As per the report, western countries are pressuring international social media companies to remove Russian state-backed media off their platforms. Funds with technology investments in China are facing huge pressure from both their investors and China hawks in the US, according to another Asia-based private equity adviser who requested anonymity.

A “rumored alliance” between Russia and China

Concerns have been raised that the two countries, who have previously backed each other on issues relating to Taiwan and Nato, could once again join forces.

As reported by The Sun, after vigorously opposing sanctions, China has not overtly supported Russia’s invasion, but they have refused to condemn Russia’s actions. The United States and its allies were blamed by China for inciting Russian forces to cross the border.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has just warned US Secretary of State Antony Blinken against US action that could fuel the fires in Ukraine. After China and India abstained on a UN vote condemning the invasion of Ukraine, they experienced an intense backlash.

Chinese officials were reportedly aware of Russia’s preparations and had even encouraged Russia to postpone its invasion of Ukraine until after the Winter Olympics. According to a source who spoke to Reuters, China was aware of the issue, but they were unable to share specifics on what they knew. The Chinese government has refuted the allegations, implying that there is no proof to back them up.

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