Documents that were discovered in hacked emails from a Russian media broadcaster reveal that Russia and China have signed agreements to cooperate at coordinating propaganda that counters information in the free Western world.
The Intercept noted that a prime example can be seen in China’s quick adoption of Russia’s debunked claim that the U.S. was funding bioweapons programs in Ukraine.
“Documents found in a trove of hacked emails from Russia state broadcaster VGTRK show that China and Russia have pledged to join forces in media content by inking cooperation agreements at the ministerial level,” the report said. The hack happened shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine.
The agreement was reportedly inked in July 2021 between the two countries, which both have state-controlled news organizations. An independent Russian-speaking news organization reported in 2020 “the existence of such propaganda agreements,” the report said.
“This is a master document of cooperation on media between the countries,” said David Bandurski, director of China Media Project, an independent organization that researches Chinese-language media. “The document allows us to see the process behind the scenes of how cooperation is planned and discussed by these particular ministries.”
The agreements show that the two countries have pledged to promote each other to domestic audiences and to audiences overseas.
“What possible real interest can Russian audiences have in a photography exhibition to celebrate the CCP’s centennial?” said Bandurski. “What the Chinese government seems to be doing here is throwing a bunch of external propaganda products onto a giant wish list, hoping that Russia will help it tell its story.”
The report says that China has the upper hand in the deal, a Russian source told the publication.
“The Chinese control all the big projects,” the source told The Intercept. “So far, they haven’t even figured out some basic issues like broadcasting our channels on Chinese cable.”