Putin has shut down virtually all independent media in Russia and intimidated journalists with a new law making it illegal to report accurately on the Ukraine invasion — or even to call it an “invasion” rather than an antiseptic-sounding “special military operation.” His regime has erected a digital iron curtain.
The result is that, according to widespread reports, most Russians are seeing only the sanitized pictures from Ukraine that Putin wants them to see. From state-controlled media, they are hearing only Putin’s lies about the Ukrainian government’s supposed persecution of Russian speakers. They are given no reason to believe Russia is doing anything wrong.
China’s control of the information space, even more sophisticated and complete, includes an Internet “Great Firewall” that is strikingly effective at keeping out facts and opinions that might threaten the Chinese Communist Party’s hold on power. Since Xi has made an alliance with Putin and declined to criticize the Ukraine invasion — so far, at least — Chinese media, too, have presented a version of the war in which Russians are liberators and spread conspiracy theories suggesting U.S. labs in Ukraine might be developing biological weapons.