Ahead of their scheduled 9am (eastern) call this morning, President Joe Biden is expected to warn Xi Jinping that the US is ready to retaliate if Beijing is found to be actively supporting Russia in Ukraine, following a week of Washington allegations that China is mulling providing military equipment, including possibly drones, to replenish Moscow’s supplies in Ukraine.
Previewing the conversation, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken emphasized Biden will “make clear that China will bear responsibility for any actions it takes to support Russia’s aggression, and we will not hesitate to impose costs” in a Thursday news conference. Blinken has charged that China is “considering directly assisting Russia with military equipment.”
Blinken said further “it appears that China is moving in the opposite direction by refusing to condemn this aggression, while seeking to portray itself as a neutral arbiter.” An example of this kind of mixed signaling is that China has so far withheld calling what kicked off on Feb.24 an “invasion” but has used the words “issue” or “crisis”. At the same time China’s ambassador to Kiev this week affirmed Beijing’s “friendship” with Ukraine, vowing that it would never undermine its sovereignty and that it would “never attack” it.
Update(12:40ET): While the White House call readout has been slow to emerge, below is an outline of the call, now concluded, complied by Bloomberg:
– Both Xi and Biden think the video call exchange was “constructive”
– Xi reiterated China’s stance that it would like to provide humanitarian aid to Ukraine and other nations affected, and that all parties should jointly support dialogues and negotiations between Russia, Ukraine
– Biden said the U.S. is willing to keep communication open with China to avoid further escalation of the Ukraine crisis
– Xi said he values the reiteration of Biden that the U.S. will not seek new cold war, not seek to change China’s system, not to oppose China with allies, not to support “Taiwan independence”
– Xi said China-U.S. ties will see “subversive” impact if Taiwan issues aren’t handled properly
– Xi said he hopes U.S. will pay enough attention to Taiwan issues
– Separately Xi said the U.S. side has misjudged China’s strategic intentions, and no actions have been taken from the U.S. side to enforce President Biden’s positive remarks, leading to the current situation of China-U.S. relations
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