Back to Africa Check

China not ‘ready to intervene’ if US and Nato attack Russia. Ignore false old claim dismissed by Chinese defence ministry in 2022

IN SHORT: As the war between Russia and Ukraine continues, claims that China has threatened the US and Nato are false.

The fearmongering theme of a message circulating on social media since mid-March 2024 is stark. It reads simply: “WW3 ALERT.”

WW3 refers to a possible third world war.

The message claims that China has said it will “intervene militarily” if the United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (Nato) attack Russia.

China, Russia and the US are among the world’s most powerful countries. Nato is a military alliance formed in 1949 in response to a perceived threat from the Russia-controlled Soviet Union, which fell apart in 1991.

Nato’s members include Canada and the US in North America, countries in Europe, and Turkey, which straddles Europe and Asia. Its newest member is the previously non-aligned European country of Sweden, which joined on 7 March 2024. 

China and Russia are not Nato members, while Ukraine continues to seek Nato membership.

The claim has appeared on Facebook and X (formerly Twitter) in Nigeria, South Africa and elsewhere. Its versions include:

  • CHINA WARNS USA AND NATO. “China is ready to intervene militarily anywhere if the US or NATO decide to attack Russia,” said a Chinese Defense Ministry official.
  • "China is prepared to get militarily involved anywhere, if the US and NATO decide ro attack Russia." ~Spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Defence. The Chinese know that if the US and NATO are not stopped now, it will be China's turn next.
  • TANKEFEI, spokesperson for the Ministry of Defense: “#China is ready to intervene militarily anywhere if the #US or #NATO were to undertake to attack #Russia”
  • China Declared that they are Ready, to intervene anywhere militarily if US or Nato Attack Russia. It Brics VS West.

Brics is an intergovernmental grouping founded by Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

Several versions of the claim include a video of Chinese president Xi Jinping addressing a huge crowd of soldiers, with military vehicles behind them.

Others link to a 17 March article on the India-based website Times Now, headlined: “China ‘Ready to Intervene’ if US, NATO attack Russia: Report.”

But has China said it would “intervene militarily” if the US and Nato attacked Russia? We checked.

Nothing but the facts

Get a weekly dose of facts delivered straight to your inbox.


‘Stop manufacturing and disseminating false information’

First, the video of Xi addressing soldiers is old. It was posted in an article on the UK’s Guardian website, dated 4 January 2018 and headlined: “Chinese army puts on show of military might for Xi Jinping – video.”

The clip shows 7,000 troops at the start of military training outside Beijing, China’s capital. The subtitles of Xi’s speech do not mention the US, Nato or Russia.

Second, the only source Times Now credits in its article is the Telegram channel WW3.INFO Battlefield Research. The channel has been criticised for publishing false information.

Third, the claim dates back to late February 2022, in the days after Russia launched its full-scale invasion of neighbouring Ukraine.

At the time it circulated only in French and Spanish. But machine translations show it’s the same claim.

  • From French: “Chinese Ministry of National Defence spokesperson Tan Kefei said that anytime, anywhere, they are ready to support Russia in case the United States and NATO want to intervene militarily.”
  • From Spanish: “CHINA WILL SUPPORT RUSSIA IF THE US AND NATO INTERVENE MILITARY ... It was announced by the Chinese Ministry of Defense. #China #Rusia #Ucrania #EEUU #OTAN #Asia #Europa #Francia #Alemania.”

The original claim, in Spanish, can also be seen here, here and here.

At the time, it was fact-checked by Agence France-Presse (AFP), which found it had no basis in fact.

The fact-check adds that China’s defence ministry “strongly denied” the claim.

AFP quotes the ministry as saying (in a machine translation from French): “The spokesperson of the Chinese Ministry of National Defence has never made this statement. We urge relevant media to observe professional ethics and stop manufacturing and disseminating false information.”

There has also been no credible news in 2024 that China announced it would intervene militarily in the still-unlikely event that the US and Nato invade Russia. Such an announcement would have made global headlines.

The claim is false and old. It first appeared online in 2022, when it was dismissed by China’s military. It is still false in 2024.

Republish our content for free

We believe that everyone needs the facts.

You can republish the text of this article free of charge, both online and in print. However, we ask that you pay attention to these simple guidelines. In a nutshell:

1. Do not include images, as in most cases we do not own the copyright.

2. Please do not edit the article.

3. Make sure you credit "Africa Check" in the byline and don't forget to mention that the article was originally published on

For publishers: what to do if your post is rated false

A fact-checker has rated your Facebook or Instagram post as “false”, “altered”, “partly false” or “missing context”. This could have serious consequences. What do you do?

Click on our guide for the steps you should follow.

Publishers guide

Africa Check teams up with Facebook

Africa Check is a partner in Meta's third-party fact-checking programme to help stop the spread of false information on social media.

The content we rate as “false” will be downgraded on Facebook and Instagram. This means fewer people will see it.

You can also help identify false information on Facebook. This guide explains how.

Add new comment

Restricted HTML

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a href hreflang> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote cite> <code> <ul type> <ol start type> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <h2 id> <h3 id> <h4 id> <h5 id> <h6 id>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.
limit: 600 characters

Want to keep reading our fact-checks?

We will never charge you for verified, reliable information. Help us keep it that way by supporting our work.

Become a newsletter subscriber

Support independent fact-checking in Africa.