Beijing lifted curbs on Russian wheat weeks before conflict: Report

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The details of the deal emerged when the Chinese General Administration of Customs issued a notice on February 23 announcing the lifting of restrictions….reports Asian Lite News

Just before the unprecedented rise in tensions between Russia and Ukraine, China signed a deal with Russia lifting import restrictions on Wheat and Barley, media reports said.

The lifting of restrictions, part of a broader group of new deals between Russia and China, was signed between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping during Putin’s visit to China at the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Beijing earlier this month, reported Fox Business.

The details of the deal emerged when the Chinese General Administration of Customs issued a notice on February 23 announcing the lifting of restrictions.

“You don’t go and give a lifeline to Russia in the middle of a period when they are invading another country,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison was quoted as saying on Friday. “That is simply unacceptable,” he further said.

Russia is the largest exporter of wheat in the world, and previously faced restrictions on exports to China over plant disease concerns, the report said. Adding further that, China’s move would hurt other major exporters of wheat to China, including Australia, European Union (EU), Canada. (ANI)

Putin on Thursday announced that special military operations are being launched “to protect” the people in the Donbas region of Ukraine. He also warned other countries that any attempt to interfere with the Russian action would lead to “consequences”.

Ukraine hashtags dominate Chinese social media

Amid tension between Russia and Ukraine, Chinese social media is dominated by hashtags related to the issue.

Hashtags such as “#Putin recognizes the independence of eastern Ukrainian civilian armed areas” and “#Change in Russian Ukrainian situation”, “#Russia will provide military assistance to the two eastern Ukrainian regions” were trending on social media. While other trending hashtags include Russian representatives to the EU saying “Russia will withdraw its troops from Ukraine after end of operation”.

On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin recognized Ukraine’s breakaway regions – Donetsk and Luhansk – as independent entities. Later, Putin ordered special military operations “to protect” the people in the Donbas region.

Several countries including the UK, the US, Canada, and the European Union have condemned Russia’s military operations and imposed sanctions on Moscow.

China’s social media platform Weibo has become a new front in Russia and Ukraine tensions as it is trying to propagate pro-Russian and anti-Western narratives.

On Tuesday, Horizon News, a subsidiary of Beijing News (state-media) accidentally posted censorship directives (that it may have received) on how to cover the Ukraine situation on its Weibo page. It gave a rare window to look into how the narratives in social media are controlled through state media outlets.

The post said that any content showing Russia unfavourably as well as any pro-Western content would not be published.

It also says “Show me (the news item) before posting it for the first time. The comment section is to be controlled with featured comments. Enable top comments first, and then pick out the appropriate ones, make sure they are responsible for what they comment. Really pay attention to the comments. Keep your eyes on each post for at least two days. Ensure proper handover. If you are running a topic (hashtag), only use it from People’s Daily, Xinhua and CCTV.”

As of Wednesday, conspicuously no hashtags related to the Ukraine issue can be found even in the top 20 Weibo trends which shows that the authorities are trying to suppress discussion on the Ukraine issue on Chinese social media.

Further, on Tuesday, two hashtags were trending on Weibo, at number 7 is “#Ukraine released a statement on Weibo”.

With the sudden announcement of Russia recognizing “the Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR)” and “the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR)” as independent and sovereign states, the Ukraine Embassy to China released a statement concerning the issue in Chinese, bringing the issue to a top trending topic on China’s Twitter-like Sina Weibo, reported Global Times.

Another was “#Ukraine” under which the news is reported in a fairly non-partisan way till now just stating the facts. State media Weibo accounts are putting independence inside quotation marks.

The ”Ukraine issue” became a hot topic on Weibo on Tuesday, with some 900 million views and prompting nearly 200,000 discussions, reported Global Times. (ANI)

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