US warns China over support for Russia following invasion of Ukraine

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Nusa Dua, Bali (REUTERS)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Nusa Dua, Bali (REUTERS)

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he raised concerns about China’s support of Russia during more than five hours of talks with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

Both diplomats described their first in-person talks since October as “candid” with the meeting taking place a day after a gathering of G20 foreign ministers on the Indonesian island of Bali.

“I shared again with the state councillor that we are concerned about the PRC’s alignment with Russia,” Blinken told a news conference after the talks, referring to the People’s Republic of China.

He said he did not think China was behaving in a neutral way as it had supported Russia in the United Nations and “amplified Russian propaganda”.

After the meeting, a U.S. official said “neither side held back”.

“We were very open about where our differences are ... but the meeting was also constructive because despite the candour, the tone was very professional,” the official said.

Blinken said Chinese President Xi Jinping had made it clear in a call with President Vladimir Putin on June 13 that he stood by a decision to form a partnership with Russia.

Shortly before Russia’s Febuary 24 invasion of Ukraine, Beijing and Moscow announced a “no limits” partnership, although U.S. officials say they have not seen China evade tough U.S.-led sanctions on Russia or provide it with military equipment.

U.S. officials have warned of consequences, including sanctions, should China offer material support for the war.

Asked about his refusal to hold talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at the G20, Blinken said: “The problem is this: we see no signs whatsoever that Russia, at this moment in time, is prepared to engage in meaningful diplomacy.”

Wang exchanged in-depth views on “the Ukraine issue” during Saturday’s talks, according to a statement released by his ministry, without giving details.

He also told Blinken the direction of U.S.-China relations was in danger of being further led “astray” due to a problem with the United States’ perception of China.

“Many people believe that the United States is suffering from an increasingly serious bout of ‘Sinophobia’,” Wang was quoted as saying.

The United States calls China its main strategic rival and is concerned it might one day attempt to take over the self-ruled democratic island of Taiwan.

Despite their rivalry, the world’s two largest economies remain major trading partners, and President Biden has been considering scrapping tariffs on a range of Chinese goods to curb surging U.S. inflation before November midterm elections.

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