Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi insisted on Monday that his country is “not a party” to Russia’s war with Ukraine, after US officials claimed Moscow had asked military equipment from Beijing and Washington have urged the Asian powerhouse not to get involved.
“China is not a party to the [Ukraine] crisis,” Wang reportedly told his Spanish counterpart, José Manuel Albares, by phone, according to Xinhua, the Chinese state news agency. “Some forces continued to smear China on the Ukraine issue…and fabricated all kinds of disinformation.”
Wang’s remarks came after U.S. officials on Sunday briefed several news outlets, including POLITICO, on the Russian request, and as Senior Chinese diplomat Yang Jiechi also spoke with US national security adviser Jake Sullivan in Rome for seven hours on Monday, according to a senior US official.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Monday dismissed the report of the request, according to Russian media Kommersant, insisting that “Russia has independent potential to continue the operation” and therefore “no reason” to ask for military help from anyone else.
Reports of Russia’s demand sent Chinese tech companies’ stock prices tumbling by their biggest margin since 2008 on Monday, and Chinese officials have begun to express concern about the possibility of being dragged into Western sanctions. against Moscow.
“China does not wish to be affected by the sanctions,” Wang Albares said. “China has the right to safeguard its legitimate rights and interests.”
The White House, meanwhile, released a brief statement on the talks with Yang in Rome, saying, “Sullivan raised a range of issues in US-China relations, with substantial discussion of Russia’s war on China. ‘Ukraine. They also stressed the importance of maintaining open lines of communication between the United States and China.
the A senior US official said the conversation was “frank” and “intense”, adding: “We are deeply concerned about China’s alignment with Russia at this time.”
A Chinese government reading of the Rome talks said Yang told Sullivan that the situation in Ukraine today “is not what China wants to see” and insisted that Beijing is “committed to promoting peace talks, and that the international community should jointly support Russian-Ukrainian peace”. talks to achieve substantial results as soon as possible.
“All parties should exercise maximum restraint and protect civilians,” Yang added, according to the reading. He also implicitly called for an understanding of Russia’s position and echoed an argument about supporting the “indivisible security principle”, which the Kremlin used to justify its brutal invasion of Ukraine. “The history and development of the Ukrainian issue must be straightened out… The legitimate concerns of all parties must be taken into account,” Yang said.
Although Beijing has expressed concern over the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, it has not publicly pressured Russia to end the war and has promised to maintain normal trade flow with Russia despite Western sanctions.
the Xinhua report on Wang’s call with Albares said the Chinese foreign minister highlighted Beijing’s efforts to facilitate a ceasefire between Russia and Ukraine. “Since the first day of the Ukraine crisis, China has been using its own means to call for peace and facilitate the talks,” Wang said.
The US claim that Russia has reached out to China for military assistance has also reignited European Union officials’ suspicions of Beijing’s role in the Ukraine crisis. Diplomats have said national EU foreign ministers are “compelled” to discuss it at a Council meeting next week.
“Diplomats are considering discussing this at EU level,” a senior diplomat said. “Ukraine must be the main topic of the EU-China summit on April 1.”
A separate senior EU official said key leaders in Brussels are now awaiting expert reports to assess the extent to which China could help Russia.
“We are reviewing this to get accurate information and discuss with our experts. It’s not a very comforting idea if China explicitly sides with Russia,” the official said.
Manfred Weber, leader of the largest group in the European Parliament, the center-right European People’s Party, said: “China’s direct military support for Russia’s war in Ukraine would have major implications for Europe’s relations with Beijing. The situation between Europe and China is already tense, but China should be aware that it could get worse.”