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Chinese outraged as Putin ally vows to 'subdue' Russia's neighbors

Chinese outraged as Putin ally vows to 'subdue' Russia's neighbors
Chinese outraged as Putin ally vows to 'subdue' Russia's neighbors


Ultranationalist Russian media personality Sergei Mardan has sparked anger on Chinese social media with his on-air remark that Russia must subdue its neighbors.

THE Saturday Mardan The host said that “Russia is an empire, and an empire can only be a military state. And a military state must fight.”

“He [Russia] “We must subdue the surrounding barbarians or be pacified,” he said, warning that the country itself “will be pacified…if we are not strong enough economically, militarily, politically and demographically.” Mardan has previously expressed his nostalgia for Tsarist Russia. , whose territory included Ukraine and several other modern states.

Xi and Putin attend a concert
Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin attend a concert on May 16, 2024 marking the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between their countries at the National Center…

Alexandre Ryumine/AFP via Getty Images

“A funny story: Russian propaganda TV host Mardan said: 'Russia is a military empire. It is always expanding and subjugating its neighbors,'” wrote the founder of the European Resilience Initiative Center , Sergej Sumlenny, in his translation of the comment on X, formerly Twitter, on Tuesday. “He didn’t think the Chinese were listening to, translating and publishing this in China.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping declared a “limitless partnership” shortly before the invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022. Since then, Moscow has increasingly relied on trade with China , particularly on its demand for oil and petroleum. natural gas, to keep the Russian economy afloat despite heavy international sanctions.

Beijing maintains its neutrality on the conflict but has largely censored criticism of the war on Chinese social media.

Mardan's comments surfaced on China's X-rated social media platform Weibo and caused a stir, with some netizens taking offense.

“Without China’s support, Russia would have collapsed in this war,” one wrote.

“Russia has no friends. Oh, Iran and North Korea,” joked another.

Another Weibo user said the comment “speaks to the heart of Russians, who fundamentally consider themselves Europeans and look down on Asians.”

“Tsarist Russia and the USSR were truly hostile [toward China]and decaying Russia is fine I guess,” said another.

Other commentators have taken a more realistic tone on Beijing-Moscow relations.

“It is normal for major powers to take precautions against each other,” one wrote.

“Does anyone in power really believe that China and Russia have been friends for generations? [national] interests now,” said another.

Yun Sun, director of the Stimson Center's China program, suggested that
limited distribution of Mardan's translated commentary, with the first message only collecting 636 comments at the time of writing this might suggest that the censors have affected many of them.

Another indicator of this phenomenon could be the high proportion of moderated comments. “So either this was 'cleaned up' by the government or something else,” she said.

News week sent written requests for comment to the Russian Foreign Ministry and the Chinese Embassy in Russia.

Mardan is known for his bellicose remarks, which prompted a group of human rights organizations to file a complaint with the International Criminal Court over his alleged incitement of violence against Ukrainians.

As the war in Ukraine approached its second anniversary in February, the TV personality called the Russian people “aggressors” and “cruel,” saying they “always come back for what's theirs.”

Updated 6/12/2024, 11:46 a.m. ET: This article has been updated with a comment from Yun Sun and additional context.