Pro-Chinese propaganda in Ukraine revolves around the humanitarian aid provided to the country. Precisely, the media and the relevant state actors highlighted that the aid was provided through the big Chinese companies and local Ukrainian businessmen, such as the Alibaba Group – one the biggest Chinese e-commerce companies. Thus, it is Jack Ma, one of the founders and members of the Board of Directors of the Alibaba Group that provided Ukraine with 50.000 tests for free. Sources that depict Chinese narratives state that the world market is experiencing shortages of medical supplies and illustrate the case of Italy that scored one of the highest death rates from COVID-19 and received little significant assistance from EU counterparts. In this context, China is the country that provides protection against the new coronavirus to the whole world and to Ukraine especially – a country that “desperately relies on the humanitarian aid from China”.
The Chinese flight. How many coronavirus tests did Zelensky’s envoys bring from China
Ukraine received medical humanitarian aid from China
Pro-Russian media outlets
Pro-Russian media such as Aif.ua or Strana.ua depict China’s humanitarian aid to Ukraine in a manner that suggests that it is China who provided concrete, feasible help to the Ukrainians. In some narratives, the readers can sense that the situation in Ukraine was lamentable and the Chinese aid helped fix the problem.
The president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, has repeatedly expressed his gratitude for the Chinese aid provided to Ukraine and in these contexts he reiterated the intention to develop and consolidate the economic relations with China. In a meeting with the newly appointed Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China, he noted the efforts of the Chinese authorities to control the spread of coronavirus and expressed the interest of Ukraine in studying the Chinese experience in combating the virus disease and establishing information exchange with Chinese medical specialists:
“We agreed with China, we are grateful to them, and we are grateful to Jack Ma separately – he helped us by financing $ 80 million. (…) On Saturday we expect fast tests to arrive in Ukraine.”
Volodymyr Zelensky discussed with the newly appointed Ambassador of China to Ukraine ways of countering the spread of coronavirus
A plane from China arrived in Ukraine with protection equipment for doctors
The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs: The virus could have been introduced by the US military
Some pro-Russian websites present Chinese narratives especially with regard to discrediting the West. The portal Rusvesna.su which is described as the No.1 portal in Russia, Donetsk, Luhansk, and Ukraine, cited the official representative of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs who inferred that the COVID-19 virus might have been brought to Wuhan by the U.S. military.
The narratives circulate in Russian mainly, as well as in Ukrainian. It targets indirectly the pro-Russian audience that also share anti-Western views, as well as neutral citizens in order to inform (subjectively or not) about China. The messages expressed by the Head of state are set to reach his electorate, as well as bring legitimacy and trust towards the actions of China.
China is not the only country that provided aid to Ukraine in their fight against COVID-19. Ukraine requested international assistance to the Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre (EADRCC) of NATO on the 23rd of March 2020. In May, The European Parliament supported the proposal of the European Commission to provide emergency macro-financial assistance to 10 countries in the framework of the neighborhood policy to overcome the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. The total loan package amounted to 3 billion euros. The largest loan was provided for Ukraine – 1.2 billion euros. Additionally, the U.S. increased assistance to Ukraine up to $ 15.5 million.