SubscribeLog in
Connect with us

China Media

“Invincible Russia”? Putin’s Speech Discussed on Chinese Social Media

“We should support peace talks, and oppose America adding fuel to the fire,” one top commenter on Weibo wrote after Putin’s speech.

Manya Koetse



Putin’s speech on Tuesday, the annual address to the Federal Assembly in Moscow, has triggered online discussions about Russia, the Ukraine war, and China’s position.

The speech that Russian President Putin delivered in Moscow has become a trending topic on Chinese social media. In the hot search lists on the Weibo app, the state-of-the-nation address even became one of the most popular hashtags on Tuesday (#普京国情咨文建华#).

In his lengthy speech, Putin portrayed the United States as an evil and aggressive global power, stating that its military actions have caused the deaths of thousands of people since 2001 and that the U.S. and other Western nations, along with Ukraine, are to blame for the ongoing war.

Early on in his address, Putin suggested that, even before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, it was already the goal of Western leaders to destabilize Russia and make the Russian people suffer. “They don’t care about the world,” he said, claiming Western people were used as “tools of lies,” just as Ukraine was being exploited as an “anti-Russian tool” and “launch pad” against Russia:

The Western elites do not hide their goal of defeating Russia. They want to take us off the map. They want to turn a local conflict into a global confrontation. And this is how we understand this, and we will respond adequately. Because this is now about the very existence of our country. But they cannot ignore the fact that Russia cannot be defeated on the battlefield, so they are waging increasingly aggressive information attacks.”

The Russian leader blamed the West for creating a “spiritual catastrophe” by “distorting truths,” “attacking Russian culture” and the “orthodox church.” He stressed that Russian faith is the faith of the country, criticizing how the holy texts’ teachings on the family as a union between woman and man have become “increasingly doubted” in the West, where the Church of England is now considering the idea of a “gender-neutral God.” He said: “They don’t know what they’re doing, what can we say, may God forgive them.”

The later parts of Putin’s address were very much focused on Russia and its future, including its economy, education, infrastructure, the strengthening of the state and Russian culture – overall, painting a picture of a strong and confident Russia.

In line with that discourse of a Russia that would “fully count on its own potential,” Putin also stated that Russia would suspend the last nuclear treaty with the United States.


“Not a single country in the world is invincible.”


On Weibo, multiple hashtags related to Putin’s speech are making their rounds. One of them is “Putin States Russia is Invincible” (#普京称俄罗斯是不可战胜的#), initiated by state media outlet Global Times, and “Putin Reiterates That Ukraine Provoked the War” (#普京重申是乌克兰挑起战争#) or “Putin Says the West Started the War” (#普京称是西方发动战争#).

Another hashtag, also hosted by Global Times, was about Russia suspending its participation in the New START treaty (#普京宣布俄暂停参与新削减战略武器条约#).

Most of the comment sections of the threads dedicated to Putin’s speech on Weibo only allow selected comments to appear. One post by Global Times about Putin’s claims that it is “the West” that started the war had over 400 replies, yet only a few were displayed.

Nevertheless, from the hundreds of comments across Weibo underneath the many different new posts – some using creative language and word jokes, – it becomes apparent that Weibo commenters are very roughly separated into three groups when it comes to Putin’s speech: those who support Putin’s words and make pro-Russian remarks, mainly in the context of anti-Americanism; those who do not pick sides but just want the war to end (without China getting involved); and those who joke about Putin and Russia’s alleged desperate attempts to bring out the glow despite its fading victory. The latter group is not necessarily anti-Russian, but they also do not have confidence in Russia’s military power (also read: Why Russia Is Nicknamed the “Weak Goose” on Chinese Social Media.)

“There’s not a single country in the world that is invincible,” one Weibo user wrote, with others suggesting that Russia is “crying without tears” and is tightly embracing its nuclear weapons because they are losing the war.

“He’s becoming as comical as Trump now,” another commenter said about Putin. Meanwhile, a topic about Donald Trump claiming he could solve the Russia-Ukraine war “in 24 Hours” also attracted attention on Chinese social media (#特朗普称能24小时解决俄乌冲突#).

“It’s funny, when the Russia-Ukraine war just started, so many people were supporting Russia, but I can see they are changing direction now,” another blogger wrote.


“Who you support and who you oppose all depends on who our enemy is. The United States is now our enemy. So do we support Russia or Ukraine?”


The Russian Embassy in China also posted about the speech on their Weibo account, highlighting Putin’s comments blaming the United States for starting the war. Most of the comments replying to that post were in support of Russia and expressed anti-American sentiments. “American hegemony and their plundering are the source of all chaos in the world,” one typical comment said.

“The enemy of our enemy is our friend,” one Shandong-based blogger (@大风吹奏) wrote: “The friends of the enemy are our enemies. This is the plain and simple logic of the ordinary people. So who you support and who you oppose all depends on who our enemy is. The United States is now our enemy. So do we support Russia or Ukraine? It’s self-evident.”

This week, US Secretary Antony Blinken met with Chinese top diplomat Wang Yi at the Munich Security Conference. Afterward, Blinken expressed concerns over Chinese companies supporting Russia and China potentially supplying weapons to Russia in the near future.

On Monday, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Wang Wenbin (汪文斌) responded, saying that the one providing weapons to the battlefield was the United States, and not China (“向战场源源不断提供武器的是美方而不是中方”). Wang Yi also had a meeting with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on the margins of the Munich Security Conference.

At the same time, U.S. President Biden made an unannounced visit to Ukraine and met with President Zelensky for first time since the start of the war. During the visit, Biden vowed that the US will back Ukraine in its fight against Russia for “as long as it takes.”

According to Chinese political commentator Hu Xijin (胡锡进), who wrote a column about Putin’s speech on his Weibo account, the spotlight appearance of both Putin and Biden showed the stark difference between the 70-year-old “quick-witted and eloquent” Putin and the 80-year-old seemingly “confused” Biden.

But Hu Xijin wrote that the outcome of the Ukrainian war is still very much up in the air, and that it is important for China to stay out of it. Instead of being forced to pick a side in the conflict, China should keep advocating for righteousness and justice and focus on its own development.

Hu’s stance is very much in line with the official narrative on China’s position in the Ukraine war. Although it may officially be “neutral” when it comes to the Russia-Ukraine War, it is not neutral when it comes to the United States and the role it plays on the world stage today.

On February 20, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs published a report titled “the US Hegemony and Its Perils” (“美国的霸权霸道霸凌及其危害”), in which it condemned the U.S. for interfering in the internal affairs of other countries and instigating “color revolutions” and regional conflicts. The report also suggested that in Ukraine, as well as in other countries, United States is “repeating its tactics” of waging proxy wars (see English version/Chinese version).

Regarding Putin’s speech: besides the openly pro-Russian comments and the more neutral ones, there are very few social media comments on Weibo at the time of writing that are strongly opposing Russia. There are also little to none that are in favor of China getting involved in this war.

“We should support peace talks, and oppose America adding fuel to the fire,” one top commenter on Weibo replied, with another saying: “Oppose war, choose peace, stay neutral.”

Many netizens say they just want the war to end. “Know when to stop, world peace now,” one person wrote. “Wake me up when World War Three is over.”

One US-based Weibo user wrote: “They’ve been fighting for a year, enough already, let there be peace.”

By Manya Koetse 

with contributions by Miranda Barnes


Get the story behind the hashtag. Subscribe to What’s on Weibo here to receive our newsletter and get access to our latest articles:

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©2023 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at

Manya Koetse is the founder and editor-in-chief of She is a writer, public speaker, and researcher (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends, digital developments, and new media in an ever-changing China, with a focus on Chinese society, pop culture, and gender issues. She shares her love for hotpot on Contact at, or follow on Twitter.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

China Local News

Changsha Restaurant Employee Pays the Price after Protecting Abused Child

A Changsha restaurant employee who intervened when a mother beat her child ended up paying the price for it.

Manya Koetse



The story of a restaurant employee who had to pay the price for sharing a video of a mother beating her child has triggered anger on Chinese social media.

The incident happened on September 14, when Mr. Jiang (江), an employee at the ‘Peng Shu’ Western-style restaurant in Changsha, stopped a mother from beating her young daughter at the shopping mall where the restaurant is located.

As reported by the Guizhou media channel People’s Focus (@百姓关注), a mother and daughter at the restaurant drew the staff’s attention when the mother began physically assaulting her daughter.

The mother, clearly overwhelmed by her emotions, resorted to kicking, hitting, yelling, and even attempting to strike her child with a chair, allegedly in response to the child accidentally spilling ice cream on her clothing.

During this distressing incident, which was captured on video, Mr. Jiang and another colleague intervened to protect the child and immediately alerted the police to the situation.

But the one who was punished in the end was not the mother.

The video of this incident was shared online, leading the woman to repeatedly visit the restaurant in frustration over her unblurred face in the video. The police had to mediate in this dispute.

To the dismay of many netizens, the employee ended up being forced to pay the woman 10,000 yuan ($1369) in compensation for “moral damages.” He has since resigned from his job and has left Changsha. A related hashtag was viewed over 110 million times on Weibo (#餐厅员工发顾客打娃视频后赔1万离职#) and also became a hot topic on Douyin.

The majority of commenters expressed their anger at the unjust outcome where a restaurant employee, who had attempted to protect the child, faced repercussions while the mother appeared to avoid any legal consequences for her actions.

“Where is the All-China Women’s Federation when you need them?” some wondered, while others wanted to know why the incident was not followed up with an immediate investigation into the child abuse. Others suggested that if it were a man who had beaten his child, authorities would have been quicker to intervene.

The issue of corporal punishment for children often comes up in Chinese social media discussions. While many people find it unacceptable to beat children, using violence to discipline children is also commonplace in many families.

When China’s first national law against domestic violence came into effect on 1 March 2016, article 5 and 12 specifically addressed the special legal protection of children and made family violence against children against the law.

By Manya Koetse

Get the story behind the hashtag. Subscribe to What’s on Weibo here to receive our newsletter and get access to our latest articles:

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©2023 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at

Continue Reading

China Fashion & Beauty

Fashion that Hurts? Online Debates on China’s Draft Law Regarding ‘Harmful’ Clothes

The proposed ban on clothing deemed harmful is stirring debate, with some arguing for the significance of protecting national pride and others emphasizing the value of personal expression.

Manya Koetse



China’s recent proposal to ban clothing that “hurts national feelings” has triggered social media debates about freedom of dress and cultural sensitivities. The controversial amendment has raised questions about who decides what’s offensive for which reason.

A draft amendment to China’s Public Security Administration Punishments Law (治安管理处罚法) has caused some controversy this week for proposing a ban on clothes that “hurt national feelings.”

The discussions are about Article 34, clausules 3 and 4, which point out that wearing clothing or symbols that are deemed “harmful” to “the spirit and feelings of the Chinese nation” could become illegal. Offenders may face up to 15 days of detention and a fine of 5,000 yuan ($680).

The revised Article is part of a section about acts disrupting public order and their punishment, mentioning the protection of China’s heroes and martyrs.

Especially over the past three to four years, Chinese authorities have placed more importance on protecting the image of China’s “heroes and martyrs.” In 2018, the Heroes and Martyrs Protection Law was adopted to strengthen the protection of those who have made significant contributions to the nation and sacrificed their lives in the process.

Those insulting the PLA can face serious consequences. In 2021, former Economic Observer journalist Qiu Ziming (仇子明), along with two other bloggers, were the first persons to be charged under the new law as they were detained for “insulting” Chinese soldiers. Qiu, who had 2.4 million fans on his Weibo page, made remarks questioning the number of casualties China said it suffered in the India border clash. He was sentenced to eight months in prison.

Earlier this year, Chinese comedian Li Haoshi was canceled making a joke that indirectly made a comparison between PLA soldiers and stray dogs, while also placing words famously used by Xi Jinping in a ridiculous context.

Screenshot of the draft widely shared on social media.

The draft is open for public comment through September 30, and it is therefore just a draft of a proposed amendment at this point.

Nevertheless, it has ignited many discussions on Chinese social media, where legal experts, bloggers, and regular netizens gave their views on the issue, with many people opposing the amendment.

This a translation of the first four clausules of Article 34 by Jeremy Daum’s China Law Translate (see the full translation here). Note that the discussions are focused on the item (2) and (3) revisions:

“Article 34:Those who commit any of the following acts are to be detained for between 5 and 10 days or be fined between 1,000 and 3,000 RMB; and where the circumstances are more serious, they are to be detained for between 10 and 15 days and may be concurrently fined up to 5,000 RMB:
(1) engaging in activities in public places that are detrimental to the environment and atmosphere for commemorating heroes and martyrs;
(2) Wearing clothing or bearing symbols in public places that are detrimental to the spirit of the Chinese people and hurt the feelings of the Chinese people, or forcing others do do so;
(3) Producing, transmitting, promoting, or disseminating items or speech that is detrimental to the spirit of the Chinese people and hurts the feelings of the Chinese people;
(4) Desecrating or negating the deeds and spirit of heroes and martyrs, or advocating or glorifying wars of aggression or aggressive conduct, provocation, or disrupting public order.”

Here, we mention the biggest online discussions surounding the draft amendment.

Main Objections to the Amendment

On Chinese social media site Weibo, commenters used various hashtags to discuss the recent draft, including the hashtags “China’s Proposed Amendment to the Public Security Administration Punishments Law” (#我国拟修订治安管理处罚法#), “Article 34 of the Draft Amendment to the Public Security Administration Punishments Law” (#治安管理处罚法修订草案第34条#) or “Harm the Feelings of the Chinese Nation” (#伤害中华民族感情#).

The issue that people are most concerned about is the vague definition “harming or hurting the spirit and feelings of the Chinese nation” (“伤害中华民族精神、感情”).

Although Chinese state media outlets, including the English-language Global Times, indicate that the clause is deemed to target some provocative actions to attract public attention, such as wearing Japanese military uniforms at sensitive sites, legal experts and social media users are expressing apprehensions regarding its ambiguity.

Questions arise: Who determines what qualifies as “harmful”? What criteria will be used? How will it be enforced? Beyond concerns about the absence of clear guidelines on which attire might be deemed illegal and for what reasons, there are fears of potential misinterpretation and misuse of such a law due to its subjective nature.

Some people question whether wearing foreign brands like Adidas or Nike could be considered offensive. There are also concerns about whether wearing sports attire supporting specific clubs might be seen as disrespectful. Another common topic is cosplay, a popular form of role-playing among China’s youth, where individuals dress up in costumes and accessories to portray specific characters. Can people still dress up in the way they like?

Well-known political commentator Hu Xijin published a video commentary about the issue on September 7, suggesting that the law in question could be more concrete and avoid misunderstanding by explicitly mentioning it targets facism, racism, or separatism. He also suggested that it is important for China’s legal system to provide people with a sense of security (– rather than scaring them).

Others reiterated similar views. If the clausules are indeed specifically about slandering national heroes and martyrs, which makes sense considering their context, they should be rephrased. One popular legal blogger (@皇城根下刀笔吏) wrote:

The legal enforceability of harming the spirit and the feelings of the Chinese nation is not quite the same as insulting or slandering heroes. Because it is actually very clear who our national heroes are. They are classified as martyrs and were approved by the state, it’s very clear. But when it comes to the feelings and the spirit of the Chinese nation, this is just very vague (..) And ambiguity brings about a mismatch in the practice of implementation, which will make people lose trust in this legal provision and makes them feel unsafe.”

Although a majority of commenters agree that the proposed amendment is vague, some also express that they would support a ban on clothes that are especially offensive. Among them is the popular blogger Han Dongyan (@韩东言), who has over 2.3 million followers on Weibo.

One example that is mentioned a lot, also by Han, is the 2001 controversy surrounding Chinese actress Vicky Zhao who wore a mini-dress printed with the old Japanese naval flag during a fashion shoot, triggering major backlash over her perceived lack of sensitivity to historical matters and the offensive dress.

Han also mentioned a 2018 example of two young men dressed in Imperial Japanese military uniforms taking a photo in front of the Shaojiashan Bunker at Zijin Mountain, where the Second Sino-Japanese War is commemmorated.

Kimono Problems

One trending story that is very much entangled with recent discussions about the proposed ban on ‘harmful’ clothing is that about a group of Chinese men and women who were recently denied access to the Panlongcheng National Archaeological Site Park in Wuhan because staff members allegedly mistook their clothing for Japanese traditional attire.

The individuals were actually not wearing Japanese traditional dress at all; they were wearing traditional Tang dynasty clothing to take photos of themselves. This is part of the Hanfu Movement, a social trend that is popular among younger people who supports the wearing of Han Chinese ethnic clothing (read more).

According to Zhengguan News (正观新闻), there is no official park policy prohibiting the wearing of Japanese clothing, and an internal investigation into the incident is ongoing. The Paper reported that the incident allegedly happened around closing time.

Meanwhile, this incident has sparked discussions because it highlights the potential consequences when authorities arbitrarily enforce clothing rules and misinterpret situations. One netizen wrote: “It illustrates that when “some members of the public” cannot even tell the difference between Hanfu, Tang dynasty attire, and Japanese kimono, they are simply venting their emotions.”

Last year, a Chinese female cosplayer who was dressed in a Japanese summer kimono while taking pictures in Suzhou’s ‘Little Tokyo’ area was taken away by local police for ‘provoking trouble’ (read here).

A video showed how the young woman was scolded by an officer for wearing the Japanese kimono, suggesting she is not allowed to do so as a Chinese person. The girl was known to be a cosplayer, and she was dressed up as the character Ushio Kofune from the Japanese manga series Summer Time Rendering, wearing a cotton summer kimono, better known as yukata.

The incident sparked extensive debates, with differing viewpoints emerging. While some believed the girl’s choice of wearing Japanese clothing during the week leading up to August 15, a memorial day marking the end of the war, was insensitive, many commenters defended her right to engage in cosplay.

These discussions are resurfacing on Weibo, underscoring the divided opinions on the matter.

One Weibo user expressed a common viewpoint: “I believe wearing a Japanese kimono in everyday situations is not a problem, but doing so at specific times and places could potentially offend the sentiments of the Chinese nation.” Another blogger (@猹斯拉) also voiced support for a law that could prohibit certain clothing: “If you genuinely believe what you’re wearing is not harmful, you always have the right to make your argument.”

However, there is also significant opposition, with some individuals posting images of themselves reading George Orwell’s 1984 at night or making cynical remarks like, “Maybe we should say nothing and wear nothing, as anything else could lead to our arrest.”

“This is not progress,” another person wrote: “It’s taking another step back in time.”

By Manya Koetse

With contributions by Miranda Barnes


Get the story behind the hashtag. Subscribe to What’s on Weibo here to receive our newsletter and get access to our latest articles:

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©2023 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at

Continue Reading

Subscribe to our newsletter

Stay updated on what’s trending in China & get the story behind the hashtag
Sign up here to become a premium member of What’s on Weibo today and gain access to all of our latest and premium content, as well as receive our exclusive Weibo Watch newsletter. If you prefer to only receive our free newsletter with an overview of the latest articles, you can subscribe for free here.

Get in touch

Would you like to become a contributor, or do you have any tips or suggestions for us? Get in touch with us here.

Popular Reads