In its articles, the web portal Webtribune often conveys information from a Chinese blog where content can be published by anyone, thus presenting the blog as a credible media source.
Readers reported several articles on Webtribune, which are based on using the same disinformation strategy of manipulative presentation of certain sources as official and credible, even though they are not. In some of the articles reported to us, this web portal refers to the “Chinese edition of Baijahao”.
Baijiahao: Sanctions against Russia will destroy Switzerland’s reputation – Such a turnaround for the first time in history (March 12, 2022)
Baijiahao: This is the first country to fall in the decisive battle between the West and Russia (April 21, 2022)
Baijiahao: Lavrov launched an avalanche in the West – A major split in NATO is being prepared – Someone in the West is giving everything to Russia (April 28, 2022)
BREAKING: Putin’s words about Peter the Great’s Northern War predict Russia’s future moves – THESE ARE HIS INTENTIONS (June 11, 2022)
All of these articles cite Baijahao as the source, but none highlight any details about this source.
In the title of one of the articles in which Baijahao is also cited as a source, published on May 16, 2022, it is stated the following:
BREAKING – Baijiahao: China has decided – It will not allow Russia to fight alone against the West
Unnamed “Chinese analysts” and “Baijahao experts” are cited as the source for the claims in this article:
It is in Beijing’s interest to support Moscow in its confrontation with Western countries. This is written by the Chinese publication Baijiahao.
“Although China did not directly help Russia in the Ukraine issue, Beijing essentially does not want Russia to fight alone and be defeated by other countries”, Chinese analysts explain.
Experts at Baijiahao write that, as two neighboring world powers, China and Russia are interested in mutual cooperation because it greatly benefits both countries’ development.
We found these claims in the articles of four other web portals (1, 2, 3, 4). By the time of writing this analysis, according to Meta’s CrowdTangle tool, these articles have achieved more than 31,000 interactions on the social network Facebook.
In the other articles, unnamed “analysts” and “experts” are cited as sources, and Baijiahao presents itself as a “web portal” and “newspaper”:
With sanctions against Russia, Switzerland will destroy its reputation. This was the conclusion reached by the analysts of the Chinese publication Baijiahao. (March 12, 2022)
“However, the first country in the world to fall as a result of this conflict was a small country located far away in the Indian Ocean – Sri Lanka”, the newspaper writes.
As the Chinese web portal notes, the anti-Russian sanctions of the West have seriously affected world trade and the economy of various countries. (April 21, 2022)
The statement of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov about the beginning of the second stage of the special military operation of the Russian Armed Forces in Ukraine has put the USA in a highly vulnerable position. Analysts of the Chinese publication Baijiahao came to such conclusions. (April 28, 2022)
Vladimir Putin recalled the achievements of Tsar Peter the Great, who returned previously lost lands to Russia. This statement predicts the Russian Federation’s future path, writes the analysts of the Chinese web portal “Baijiahao”. (June 11, 2022)
None of the mentioned articles explain what Baijahao actually is or who the unnamed analysts are.
What is Chinese Baijahao?
Although it can be concluded from the Webtribune articles, the Baijahao platform is not a credible source of information. It is, in fact, a blog platform of the technology company Baidu, where anyone can create posts, and it is not a “newspaper”, “web portal”, or “Chinese publication” with editorially formatted content. In 2021, this platform had over four million accounts, according to data published by the Chinese marketing agency Gentleman.
According to the same source, content on this platform can be published by users, companies, and real media. However, without stating the exact name of the person, media or company that is actually the source of the claims being published, such sources are presented without argument as experts and analysts, although they may be only users of this platform, which is incorrectly presented as media.
So, on this platform, anyone can create an account and publish any content, which is not subject to any checks or editorial formatting. Concealing this information in its articles and using the previously mentioned wording, Webtribune gives the appearance of officiality and credibility to the published claims. Consequently, a number of other web portals do the same while sharing articles from Webtribune.
Has China decided it “will not allow Russia to fight alone against the West”?
We could not find the original article on the Baijahao blog, which domestic web portals refer to when they claim that China has decided that it “will not allow Russia to fight alone against the West”. Even in the article published by the domestic media, such a claim is not actually found.
Our partner portal from Croatia, Faktograf, wrote about the claims from the mentioned article in an analysis from May 23, 2022. In the analysis, among other things, they state:
It is true that since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, the People’s Republic of China has provided support to Russia, refusing to participate in international sanctions against Vladimir Putin’s regime and continuing to trade with Russia (although at the same time calling for a peaceful resolution of the conflict). However, at no time did China suggest that it intended to engage in the war actively.
Therefore, China did not impose sanctions on Russia, but this does not mean that this country has decided that “it will not allow Russia to fight alone against the West”. Such a statement implies that China has decided to openly support Russia, which is not the case.
In this particular case, Webtribune presented the information published on a blog where anyone can create content as an official decision of China. Although the title stated that the information originated from the Baijahao platform, Webtribune clearly attributed these claims to China, omitting the information about the actual source.
In more than 50 analyses, Raskrinkavanje has written about earlier disinformation published by the anonymous web portal Webtribune, which you can find here.
Given all the facts, we evaluate the claim that “China has decided that it will not allow Russia to fight against the West alone” as disinformation.