Since the war broke out in February, experts have been struck by a convergence in Russian and Chinese media narratives. While some of the convergence was likely happenstance, occurring when storylines aided both governments’ goals, 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.
A bilateral agreement signed July 2021 makes clear that cooperating on news coverage and narratives is a big goal for both governments. At a virtual summit that month, leading Russian and Chinese government and media figures discussed dozens of news products and cooperative ventures, including exchanging news content, trading digital media strategies, and co-producing television shows. The effort was led by Russia’s Ministry of Digital Development, Communication and Mass Media, and by China’s National Radio and Television Administration.
In the propaganda agreement, the two sides pledged to “further cooperate in the field of information exchange, promoting objective, comprehensive and accurate coverage of the most important world events.” They also laid out plans to cooperate on online and social media, a space that both countries have used to seed disinformation, pledging to strengthen “mutually beneficial cooperation in such issues as integration, the application of new technologies, and industry regulation.”link