“Want China to Wipe America’s Ass?”
China and Russia Revel in American Humiliation
Last Week Marked the Thirtieth Anniversary of the August Putsch, a Crucial Event in the Fall of the Soviet Union
#1: Afghanistan Deteriorates
The changing situation in Afghanistan brought up varying messages as the week progressed. RBC, part of the partially state owned energy conglomerate ESN Group, reported that refugees presented a security threat to Russia and Putin’s criticism of the West’s refugee policy. Vzglyad, owned by the government-aligned Institute for Socio-Economic and Political Studies, ran an op-ed warning about refugees entering Russia from Central Asia.
RT, part of government-owned TV-Novosti, published a story on Putin promising non-interference in Afghanistan. REGNUM, an independent pro-government newswire, reported on the Taliban’s desire for “good relations” with Russia and China. Gazeta.ru, owned by the Central Bank of Russia, reported on Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov consideration of recognizing the Taliban. Moskovsky Komsomolets, owned by Pavel Gusev, the chair of the Public Council of the Ministry of Defense, and Russia’s second most-read newspaper, broke from the pack and highlighted Taliban atrocities while running an op-ed denouncing the Russian ambassador to Afghanistan for seemingly recognizing the Taliban.
BBC Russian published a video on the fate of women in Afghanistan under Taliban rule and their fear “they will no longer be able to work and study”. Kommersant, a leading business daily which maintains a liberal stance despite its ownership by Putin-ally Ali Usmanov, highlighted continued resistance to the Taliban.
#2: Putin and Merkel Meet
German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrived in Russia on August 20 for a set of negotiations with Vladimir Putin. RIA Novosti, part of government-owned TV-Novosti, reported on Putin handing Merkel a bouquet ahead of negotiations. Vzglyad, owned by the government-aligned Institute for Socio-Economic and Political Studies, mocked Ukrainian responses to the meeting with the headline “Ukraine accuses Merkel of defending Germany’s interest on gas.” After Merkel restated her commitment to Ukraine, REN TV, part of Putin ally Yuri Kovalchuk’s National Media Group, published a piece on supposed outrage in Germany.
Golos Ameriki, the Russian brand of the US-funded Voice of America, amplified calls for Merkel to call on Putin to release dissident Alexei Navalny, a year to date after the assassination attempt against him. Ekho Moskvy, editorially independent but owned by state energy corporation Gazprom, reported that Merkel had demanded Navalny’s freedom but the Kremlin press release omitted this fact.
#3: 30th Anniversary of the August Putsch
On August 19th, 1991, Communist hardliners seized control of the Kremlin and placed then-premier MIkhail Gorbachev under house arrest in Crimea. The “August Putsch” failed three days later with Boris Yeltsin dramatically rousing protestors from atop a tank outside the Soviet seat of government. The event was a major milestone in the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Komsomolskaya Pravda–part of ESN Group, Russia’s leading newspaper, and named for the newspaper of Communist Youth League–wrote several flatteringpieces on coup-leader Sergey Akhromeyev, consistently introducing him as “Hero of the Soviet Union,” a title awarded for his role in the Afghan War. The same paper sarcastically claimed “The midnight secret drunkenness of Gorbachev, Yeltsin, [Kazakh leader Nursultan] Nazarbayev led to the Emergency Committee [behind the putsch] and the collapse of the USSR” in a piece deeply critical of Gorbachev. Moskovsky Komsomolets, named after Moscow’s Communist Youth League, reported on the efforts of Gennady Zyuganov, current leader of the Communist Party, to have Yeltsin tried for treason. RIA Novosti reported on a speech by Sergei Shoigu, head of Putin’s United Russia party and Minister of Defense, where he stated that following the Soviet collapse, “a huge number of political programs were adopted in the country, but people's lives did not get better.”
Kommersant interviewed protestors against the Putsch who expressed joy at their “three days of freedom.” Dozhd TV, an independent TV channel Russia labeled a foreign agent, reported on Muscovites who laid flowers on behalf of protestors killed in the Putsch.
People’s Republic of China
Military Exercises Continue Apace in the PRC
#1: China Revels In American Failure
Chinese state sources reveled in American humiliation in Afghanistan. “What’s the most you can win in 10 days?” asked Xinhua, the state newswire, in a video replete with laugh track and sound effects, “Ask the Taliban! What’s the most you could lose?... Ask the United States!” People’s Daily, the newspaper of the Central Committee of the CCP, declared “the role of the United States is to destroy rather than build.” The piece was reprinted in local CCP outlets in Anhui and Hunan and in the national Guangming Daily.
Other outlets focused on the looming refugee crisis. “Want China to wipe America’s ass?” asked an article by China Youth Network, part of the Communist Youth League of the CCP, which blasted the State Department spokesman Ned Price for accusing China of genocide against Muslims while mentioning China as a possible destination for Afghan refugees. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying declared minimizing refugee flows was necessary to stability in Afghanistan in a press conference reprinted in Heilongjiang Morning News, Beijing TV, and People’s Daily Overseas Edition.
Radio Free Asia Uyghur praised Muslim countries which accepted Afghan refugees. BBC Chinese was critical of Biden’s handling of the evacuation, though pushed back on popular Russian and Chinese claims denying or minimizing the close ties between ISIS-K and the Taliban.
#2: The PLA Conducts Live Fire Exercises Along Coast
China conducted live fire exercises in the Yellow Sea near the North Korean border, the nearby Bohai Strait, and the South China Sea from August 23-25. The exercises were among approximately one hundred over the past four months according to Hubei Radio and Television, part of the Hubei Provincial Committee, which framed them as a warning to Taiwan. “[A]ll the ‘Taiwan independence’ elements can do is to welcome the arrival of the People's Liberation Army on Taiwan Island!” the same piece declared. People’s Daily highlighted a simulated landing conducted by Eastern Theater Command, which conducted live fire exercises near Taiwan last week. Shanghai Eye, part of partially state-owned Shanghai Media Group, published a video lauding the exercises as a warning against Taiwanese independence.
Radio Free Asia Chinese highlighted invasive PLA military exercises through the streets of Hong Kong. Voice of America Chinese reported on joint exercises by the US, Japan, India, and Australia “to jointly respond to the Chinese threat”.
#3: American Attempts To Blame COVID on China Fail
CCP sources pounced on the United States failure to reach a conclusion in its investigation into the origin of COVID. The original investigation prompted a surge in Chinese promotion of the conspiracy last July. CCTV, part of the State Council’s China Media Group, preemptively dismissed any possible conclusions of the report, as did Hubei Radio and Television.
State newswire eCNS promoted the conspiracy that COVID originated at Fort Detrick, Maryland, in a story reprinted by Inner Mongolia News Network of the Regional Committee of the Chinese Communist Party and Shaanxi TV of the Provincial Committee. Strategic Security and Arms Control Online, a publication of the State Council, reported on diplomats Chen Xu’s request that the WHO investigate Fort Detrick.
Voice of America Chinese mocked China Daily’s conspiracies around COVID. Other opposition sources did not report on COVID origin theories.