As senior officials from Russia and China announced they had agreed to participate in more joint military exercises, a rumor spread on social media that the Chinese military was allying with Russian troops invading Ukraine.
“Chinese military convoy enters Ukraine from Russia,” said multiple posts appearing on Facebook Sept. 18.
A video in the posts is grainy and looks like it was taken with a cell phone camera. It shows a line of military vehicles driving down the road and occasionally, civilian cars can be seen driving in the opposite direction.
But there’s no evidence to support the claim that it shows a Chinese military convoy entering Ukraine.
These posts were flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook.)
Because the vehicles in the video are shot at an angle, it’s difficult to see some of the finer details in the footage, but what appear to be Chinese characters are seen on the side of some military vehicles. However, the license plates on passenger cars don’t seem to have the Ukrainian flag against a blue background, which now adorns plates in that country.
The footage appeared online as early as Aug. 29, when it was posted to YouTube. But the account sharing the clip there didn’t claim that it showed a Chinese military convoy entering Ukraine from Russia. Rather, the title, translated from Russian to English using Google Translate, says: “PLA to take part in Vostok 2022 land exercises.”
PLA is an acronym for the People’s Liberation Army, a Chinese military force. On Aug. 17, Reuters reported that Chinese troops would travel to Russia to take part in joint military exercises led by the country. China’s defense ministry said in a statement at the time that its participation was “unrelated to the current international and regional situation.”
In July, Russia announced that it would hold the “Vostok” (meaning “East”) exercises in the country’s Far East region Aug. 30-Sept. 5. That’s on the opposite side of the country from Russia’s border with Ukraine. The last Vostok exercises in 2018 took place with nearly 300,000 troops reported to be involved, including the Chinese army, according to Reuters.
After a widely-covered meeting Sept. 15 between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping, Putin said that Xi had “questions and concerns” about the situation in Ukraine. The revelation that China had breached the Russia-Ukraine border would be international news, and yet there are no credible sources making the claims that appear in these Facebook posts.
In a “60 Minutes” interview that aired on CBS Sept. 18, President Joe Biden said there has been “no indication” that China has tried to help Russia in its war with Ukraine.
We rate claims that this video shows the Chinese military entering Ukraine False.