On February 23, 2023, prominent Chinese journalist Hu Xijin, formerly the editor-in-chief of the CCP-run Global Times outlet, shared a post on his Weibo account commenting on the Russia-Ukraine war and accusing Russian President Vladimir Putin of recklessness and inflexibility. Hu's post sparked widespread discussion on Chinese social media platforms, and after several hours he deleted the parts of his post criticizing Putin, along with users' comments.
Hu Xijin's Weibo account
Below are translations of two articles published on the Chinese website NetEase about the incident. The first article, by Quan Qiu Chi Gua Ju from Chongqing, dated February 23, 2023, is titled "Rare Comments by Hu Xijin: I Sympathize With Russia, But the Russian President Is Too Reckless, Misjudged the Situation." The second, by Guan Shi from Hunan, dated February 26, 2023, is titled "On February 23, Hu Xijin Deleted His Weibo Post, Emptied Netizens' Comments After Scolding Putin For His Recklessness Over the Russia-Ukraine War." Both show some of the original comments made on Hu's post, including some mocking him.
"Rare Comments By Hu Xijin: I Sympathize With Russia, But The Russian President Is Too Reckless, Misjudged The Situation" – Quan Qiu Chi Gua Ju, February 23, 2023
"This is the latest commentary by Hu Xijin, former editor-in-chief of Global Times, one of China's best-known media figures, on his personal social media account.
"In the article, Mr. Hu offered a rare assessment of the Russian president: 'I sympathize with the country, but the president is reckless and has muddled the logic of things.'
"It was Mr. Hu's fourth commentary on the Russian president in 24 hours, a rarity in the past.
"Hu's comments on Russia naturally sparked widespread discussion on social media platforms.
"The main point of discussion was whether Hu Xijin's comments on Russia and its president are reliable and reasonable.
"1. It is very rare for Hu Xijin to comment on the Russian president four times in 24 hours:
"Since the afternoon of February 22, Hu Xijin, one of China's most famous media celebrities, has posted four commentary articles on Russia in succession on his personal social media account.
"Hu Xijin's online career has rarely seen so many comments on a foreign figure, with such a high frequency.
"In particular, on the afternoon of February 23, Hu Xijin published a long article specifically explaining his judgment and opinion on the Russian president, which aroused considerable attention.
"2. Hu Xijin's three judgments of the Russian president: some recklessness, miscalculation of the situation, lack of flexibility:
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"In this long commentary, Hu Xijin expresses his three judgments about the famous Russian figure.
"First, Hu sees Putin as reckless and uncalm, as evidenced by his handling of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
"'I think he muddled the logic of things himself,' Hu wrote.
"Second, Mr. Hu thinks the president misjudged the situation and muddled the logic of things by treating his rival, Ukraine, as a small country, a chicken that could be easily subdued.
"'He thought that once he lost his temper, he could scare his rivals and they would lose their resistance,' Hu wrote. 'The result was completely the opposite.'
"Ultimately, Hu Xijin doesn't think the president has been successful at running the country at all.
"He cited a famous quote from Mr. Putin's supporters 23 years ago: 'Give me 20 years and I will give you back a powerful Russia.'
"'His governance has proved to be rather unsuccessful, failing to complete the transition in a timely manner, resulting in a lack of necessary flexibility,' Hu wrote.
"In his article, Hu Xijin also concludes that the Russian president's mission to lead his country back to power is, for now, premature.
"3. Netizens debate: Are Hu Xijin's comments reasonable and reliable?
"After Hu posted the lengthy comments, they immediately triggered a wide discussion on social media platforms.
"The main point of discussion is whether Hu Xijin's four comments on the Russian president in 24 hours are reasonable and reliable or not.
"'Agree with Hu and contribute our strength to world peace,' wrote a netizen in Jiangxi province.
"The comment received many likes and became a popular comment.
"'Brothers should not fight each other,' another netizen from Shanghai said. 'Their own affairs should be discussed behind closed doors. No one should take advantage of the loophole and lead to a lose-lose situation.'
"This post also received a lot of likes.
"'The whole point of Hu's article is that Putin is a "boorish fellow,"' commented one Guangdong netizen.
"'Do media people think they can do anything?' asked one Beijing netizen.
"'I sympathize with Hu,' said a Jiangxi netizen. 'Hu is so confused that he doesn't know who to sympathize with.'
"An Anhui netizen wrote: 'Hu Xijin is a typical office worker who only talks in his chair and talks big.'
"'Lao Hu, you have become a military expert this time. Is there anything in the world you don't know?' joked a netizen from Heilongjiang province."
"On February 23, Hu Xijin Deleted His Weibo Post, Emptied Netizens' Comments After Scolding Putin For His Recklessness Over the Russia-Ukraine War" – Guan Shi, February 26, 2023
"Hu Xijin, former editor-in-chief of the Global Times, commented on the Russia-Ukraine war on Weibo on February 23. Eagle-eyed netizens noticed that many of the comments were critical of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Hu then deleted the controversial content and cleared previous comments from netizens.
"On February 23, Hu Xijin posted a Weibo post, which contained many criticisms of Putin, including: 'Putin is too reckless,' 'lost the war of public opinion,' 'has a big chest and is very eloquent,' 'It has been proved that his governance of the country is not successful,' and 'Russia's economy and international standing are in decline.'
"After the publication of his post sparked heated discussion online, Hu deleted the controversial parts and deleted all previous comments, leaving only the latest comments from netizens.
"'Hu [Xijin] was never stupid, just playing dumb,' one netizen responded. 'It turns out that Hu [Xijin] likes chest muscles,' others sneered. 'He said he would not be replaced by AI and then started writing with ChatGPT, right?'"