The US is relieved that China appears to be heeding the warnings about Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing, China, February 4, 2022. Sputnik/Alexey Druzhinin/Kremlin via Reuters/File photo

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Two months after Beijing warned that Beijing appeared ready to help Russia in its war against Ukraine, senior U.S. officials said they had not seen outright Chinese military and economic support, a welcome development in the strained U.S.-China relationship. .

US officials have told Reuters in recent days that they remain concerned about China’s longstanding support for Russia in general, but the military and economic support they were concerned about has not materialized, at least for now. Comfort comes at a pivotal time.

President Joe Biden is preparing for a trip to Asia later this month dominated by how to deal with the rise of China, and his administration will soon release its first national security strategy on China’s emergence as a great power. Read more

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“We have not seen the People’s Republic of China provide direct military support to Russia’s war on Ukraine or engage in systematic efforts to help Russia evade our sanctions,” a Biden administration official told Reuters, referring to the People’s Republic of China.

“We continue to monitor the People’s Republic of China and any other country that may provide support to Russia or evade US and partner sanctions.”

In addition to shying away from direct support for Russia’s war effort, China has avoided new contracts between state oil refineries and Russia, despite massive discounts. Read more In March, the state-run Sinopec Group suspended talks about a major investment in petrochemicals and a gas marketing project in Russia. Read more

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Last month, the US envoy to the United Nations hailed China’s abstention from a UN vote condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as a “victory”, stressing that a Beijing-imposed balancing act between Russia and the West might be Washington’s best outcome. Read more

However, China refused to condemn Russia’s actions in Ukraine and criticized the sweeping Western sanctions on Moscow. Read more

Trade volume between Russia and China also jumped in the first quarter, and the two sides announced a “borderless” partnership in February.

On Monday, Beijing’s embassy in Washington released a 30-page newsletter accusing the United States of spreading “lies” to discredit China about Ukraine, including through a March press leak saying Russia had requested Chinese military assistance. The embassy noted that US officials have since said they have seen no evidence of China providing such support.

Trade between China and Russia

Biden himself has not spoken about China’s aid to Russia since he told reporters in Brussels on March 24 that in a phone call with Chinese President Xi Jinping, he “make sure he understands the consequences.”

Secretary of State Anthony Blinken told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week that China is taking “significant reputation risk” for being an ally of Russia, and that “at the moment we don’t see significant support from China for Russian military actions.”

Biden is set to visit Tokyo and Seoul on his first trip to Asia as president — one that won’t include a stop in China. He will also meet with Indian and Australian leaders during the “Quartet” meeting in Tokyo.

China has made Russia a key part of its foreign policy strategy to confront the West. A US official said Biden aides were concerned that Xi was planning to provide direct support to Russian President Vladimir Putin as his campaign in Ukraine faced severe setbacks.

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The official said they were relieved that this has not happened yet, but that Washington and its allies continue to closely monitor the level of assistance.

Bonnie Glaser, an Asia expert at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, said stern warnings from the United States and the European Union have so far paid off.

“There have been consistent messages that if China does this they will face dire consequences. It appears that the Chinese have not yet done so. It is possible that the Chinese are planning to provide military assistance and have changed their minds,” she said.

However, US officials remain concerned about China’s refusal to condemn Russia’s actions in Ukraine and what they say is its continued echo of Russian disinformation.

Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said on April 21 that Beijing had “repeatedly used false equivalencies between Russia’s war of aggression and Ukraine’s actions of self-defense.”

“Let’s be clear, China is already doing things that are not helping this situation,” she added.

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Additional reporting by Steve Holland, David Bronstrom and Trevor Honeycutt; Editing by Heather Timmons, Richard Boleyn and William MacLean

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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