China Shutters WeChat Account Listing Historical Grievances Against Moscow

2018-10-04
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Chinese president Xi Jinping (L) shakes hands with Russian president Vladimir Putin at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Sept. 11, 2018.
Chinese president Xi Jinping (L) shakes hands with Russian president Vladimir Putin at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Sept. 11, 2018.
AP

Chinese government censors on Thursday shut down a social media account known for its criticism of Russia and bilateral ties between the two countries.

A public account on the social media platform WeChat titled "Russia and the Soviet Union's history of aggression against China and their international relations" was shut down by the authorities.

A number of its posts were also deleted, mainly those describing Russian incursions into Chinese territory in the first part of the 20th century.

The ruling Chinese Communist Party's powerful propaganda department typically intervenes to curb criticism of its key allies, and the censorship of the account highlights ever-closer ties between Beijing and Moscow, analysts said.

Independent scholar and historian Zhang Lifan said the account drew on Chinese histories of the bilateral relationship with the Soviet Union written when ties were at their worst during the 1970s.

"Now that they want to improve their relationship with Russia, we're not allowed to post these things," Zhang said, adding that Beijing's relationship with Moscow has been a roller-coaster ride in the past century or so.

"After [the founding of the People's Republic of China in] 1949, we copied the Soviet Union in everything: they could do no wrong," Zhang said. "After the Sino-Soviet split in the 1960s, they were regarded as revisionists, and we even went to war."

"The propaganda back then paid no attention to the reality of the situation; everything served the political agenda of the time," he said.

Politically sensitive

Liang Yunxiang, a scholar of international relations at Beijing's prestigious Peking University, said the study of history in China is always politically sensitive.

"Pretty much all history that is [accepted and taught] under the current system has been entirely subsumed by politics," Liang told RFA. "There have been a lot of unofficial voices speaking out in recent years about Soviet/Russian invasions of China."

"The government doesn't want anyone mentioning these things, now that bilateral ties are in a fairly good state," he said.

Liang said there is a difference to the way in which the ruling Chinese Communist Party manages public commentary and opinion about Japan.

"With Sino-Japanese relations, some of the issues have actually been resolved, legally speaking, although they keep bringing up historical grievances all the same," he said. "With Sino-Russian ties, they haven't ever really been resolved, if the truth be told."

Last week, China and Russia both called on the United Nations security council to end economic sanctions against North Korea.

In July, China delivered two power generators to the isolated Stalinist state in defiance of international sanctions punishing the country for its illicit nuclear weapons program, sources told RFA.

The generators were transported to North Korea by ship in late June, a source in Pyongyang told RFA’s Korean Service, citing information obtained from workers involved in the transfer.

Reported by Gao Feng for RFA's Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

CH. 1: MANDARIN | CANTONESE

CH. 2: VIETNAMESE | BURMESE | KOREAN

CH. 3: KHMER | LAO | UYGHUR

CH. 4: TIBETAN

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