On March 2, the New York Times bannered “China Asked Russia to Delay Ukraine War Until After Olympics, U.S. Officials Say,” and reported that:
A Western intelligence report said senior Chinese officials told senior Russian officials in early February not to invade Ukraine before the end of the Winter Olympics in Beijing, according to senior Biden administration officials and a European official. …
The intelligence on the exchange between the Chinese and Russian officials was classified. It was collected by a Western intelligence service and considered credible by officials. Senior officials in the United States and allied governments passed it around as they discussed when Mr. Putin might attack Ukraine.
However, different intelligence services had varying interpretations, and it is not clear how widely the information was shared.
One official familiar with the intelligence said the material did not necessarily indicate the conversations about an invasion took place between Mr. Xi and Mr. Putin. Other officials briefed on the intelligence declined to give further details. The officials spoke about the report on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the intelligence.
On March 8, the Chinese-Government-(Communist-Party)-owned Global Times headlined “disinformation on Ukraine crisis to smear China”, and reported that,
Citing “anonymous officials” to release disinformation is an old trick that the US has been using to mislead the public. The Global Times learned from various sources that “anonymous officials” who previous reports cited to claim that China had asked Russia not to take action in Ukraine before the end of the Winter Olympics are from the US National Security Council, and their purpose was to shift the US’ responsibility in the conflict to profit from it and smear China.
In two reports, published on February 25 and March 2, the New York Times cited “anonymous US officials” saying that China had learned about Russia’s plans in Ukraine and asked Russia not to take action before the end of the Winter Olympics. The reports accused China of standing with Russia to criticize the US and opposing US sanctions on Russia.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry has refuted these reports and pointed out that the US fabricated information to smear China.
Through various sources, the Global Times has learned that the “anonymous officials” cited by the New York Times are from the National Security Council of the White House. …
Analysts said that the problems associated with the Ukraine situation are clear, and the US and NATO are together pushing Ukraine into the fire. As the initiator of the conflict in Ukraine, the US is adding fuel to the fire, while accusing China …, which is irresponsible and immoral, the analysts said.
The NYT article published February 25 had been headlined “China may have played a role Friday in inducing Russia to look more accommodating, even as Russian forces advanced into Kyiv,” and it didn’t actually rely upon “anonymous officials” (or “anonymous US officials”), but, instead, upon individuals whom it purported to be experts on the subject, and whom that newspaper’s employees had selected, all of whom happened to be supporting the U.S. Government’s anti-Russia and anti-China positions on this matter, but none of whom were being alleged to have had personal knowledge regarding that particular matter. It also said that “In private, some Chinese academics have shared misgivings about Mr. Xi’s embrace of Mr. Putin. And on the Chinese internet, some users have robustly questioned how China’s position on the Ukraine war squares with its longstanding precept that countries should steer their own fates.” However, none of those “academics” was identified by the NYT’s journalist.