The White House announced that President Biden will speak with Chinese President Xi Jinping by teleconference on Friday to discuss the Ukraine situation, which would be their first talk in months. “This is part of our ongoing efforts to maintain open lines of communication between the United States and the PRC,” said White House press secretary Jen Psaki. “The two Leaders will discuss managing the competition between our two countries as well as Russia’s war against Ukraine and other issues of mutual concern.”
The call comes on the heels of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and rumors that Russia has urged China to provide them with military assistance. Two administration officials told the Associated Press on Monday that China has signaled it may assist Russia with military aid and financial backing to mitigate the impact of US and European economic sanctions.
White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan raised some issues during a meeting with Yang Jiechi, a senior foreign policy adviser to the Chinese government. In a report by US State Department spokesman Ned Price, “The national security adviser and our delegation raised directly and very clearly our concerns about the PRC’s support to Russia in the wake of the invasion, and the implications that any such support would have for the PRC’s relationship not only with us, but for its relationships around the world.”
The Kremlin and Chinese Foreign Ministery spokesperson Zhao Lijian both denied that Russia has asked for assistance of any kind. Zhao said in a recent press briefing, “The US has been spreading false information against China on the Ukraine issue with sinister motives.”
Obviously, this is political gamesmanship at its finest. China isn’t going to openly show their support for Russia, even if they do subtly provide it. The entire political field is fraught with smoke and mirror tactics. So far, China has sought to maintain a neutral stance in the Ukraine crisis. However, US officials have expressed concern about China’s relations with Russia and accused Beijing of disseminating Russian misinformation claiming US support for biological weapon laboratories in Ukraine.
White House press secretary Psaki warned previously this week that if China helps Russia with military or other support that “violates sanctions or supports the war effort,” it would suffer “severe consequences.” She didn’t indicate how such sanctions would be implemented, only that they would be coordinated with partners.
Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo recently warned that if Chinese companies break US export rules imposed on Russia, they will be barred from accessing American software. This comes on the coattails of recent technology restrictions placed on Russia, after Visa and Mastercard cut Russia off from its services in response to the invasion. Following that announcement, three major Russian banks announced that they would begin using the Chinese UnionPay system.
Stay tuned for a story coming out tomorrow. I lay out my thoughts as to why the financial restrictions being placed on Russia by both private companies, and world powers, is a good thing for China.