Shared Histories, Distinct Memories

Shared Histories, Distinct Memories: A comparison of Chinese and Russian official media discourses on World War II

Eighty years ago this month, the United States, United Kingdom, Soviet Union and Republic of China issued the Four Power Declaration. In this historic joint message amid the turmoil of global war, the four major Allies of World War II pledged to join hands toward the establishment of a post-war international organisation for peace: the United Nations.

Eight decades on, the official memory of World War II has become a battlefield of its own, with the four one-time allies today split across two contending camps. As geopolitical tensions continue to rise, there are strong indications that Moscow and Beijing have sought to align their historical narratives – particularly those on World War II and its lessons – to support their professed “no limits” friendship.

Using quantitative, qualitative and comparative analysis on a trilingual dataset comprising over 14,000 Russian and Chinese news articles published over the last two decades, this largescale study investigates to what extent Moscow and Beijing’s narratives on World War II are converging. It finds that any convergence is one-sided, shallow and unstable, but nonetheless deserves our critical attention.

This report is part of a larger project on World War II memory in Asia and Europe. For more information, visit the project page.

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Published On: October, 2023