Foreign Minister Wang Yi says Beijing ‘is not a party’ to the war between Russia and Ukraine as pressure grows in the country to withdraw Moscow support.
China’s foreign minister has told his Spanish counterpart that his country does not want to be affected by Western economic sanctions imposed on Russia following its invasion of Ukraine last month, according to state media.
“China is not a party to the crisis, much less wants to be affected by the sanctions,” Wang Yi was quoted as saying by a phone call with Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares released on Tuesday.
He added that China in principle rejects sanctions and “has the right to protect its legitimate rights and interests”, calling the nearly three-week-long conflict in Ukraine “the product of the accumulation and intensification of European security contradictions over the years”.
For his part, Albares wrote on Twitter: “I have spoken to my counterpart from China, Wang Yi, about the consequences of the war in Ukraine and the means to end it.”
The discussion came as the pressure is growing on China to withdraw support from an increasingly isolated Russia, which has been hit by a series of harsh sanctions imposed by the United States and Western allies.
The reading of the call did not mention recent reports citing US officials that Russia had asked China to military and economic aid after the start of the war on 24 February. A spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry had previously dismissed the reports as “malicious” US misinformation.
Separately, the ministry provided few details on what Yang Jiechi, director of China’s Central Foreign Affairs Commission, had discussed with US President Joe Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan during a marathon meeting Monday in Italy’s capital, Rome.
The two had “sincere, in-depth and constructive” talks, including about strained relations between Beijing and Washington over Taiwan, it said. Yang was quoted as saying that the US government did not live up to its commitment to abstain from supporting Taiwan’s independence.
He also demanded that Washington recognize how sensitive the Taiwan issue is and not go further down a “very dangerous road”.
China regards the autonomous democratic island republic as part of the People’s Republic and has threatened to take it back by force if it formally declares independence. The United States is committed to Taiwan’s defense capabilities and supplies it with weapons.
The White House, meanwhile, said Sullivan made it clear during the “intense” seven-hour meeting that the Biden administration has deep concerns about China’s adaptation to Russia at this time.
Prior to the talks in Rome, Sullivan had warned China to avoid helping Russia evade punishment from sanctions that have hammered the Russian economy. “We will not allow it to move forward,” he said.
Russia has denied that it needs China’s help.
“No, Russia has its own potential to continue the operation, which, as we have said, is unfolding according to plan and will be completed on time and in full,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday.