‘Turning point’: War in Ukraine tests shaky relations between US and China | War news between Russia and Ukraine
‘Turning point’: War in Ukraine tests shaky relations between US and China |  War news between Russia and Ukraine

‘Turning point’: War in Ukraine tests shaky relations between US and China | War news between Russia and Ukraine

Washington DC – In recent days, several top US officials have deterred China from supporting Russia in its war in Ukraineamid reports that Moscow has requested military assistance from Beijing.

While Chinese officials have downplayed the reports, experts say the US public press campaign against China could define an already shaky relationship between the two nations in the coming years.

“This has the potential to be a turning point in US-China relations,” Robert Ross, a professor of political science at Boston College, told Al Jazeera.

Since Russia’s launch of its extensive invasion of Ukraine on February 24, China has taken a neutral stance publicly and supported negotiations to end the deadly conflict and called for “maximum restraint”And de-escalation.

But after hours of talks between senior US and Chinese officials on Monday, Washington warned Beijing of “consequences” if it provides military or financial assistance to Moscow. This warning came after US media, citing unidentified US officials, reported that Russia had requested military assistance from China – a claim that Beijing appeared to reject.

U.S. officials have repeatedly stressed that Russia is facing setbacks in its invasion, in spite of its continued bombing of Ukrainian cities. The war has pushed more than 3 million people to flee Ukraine so far, according to the UN.

Ross said if China decides to support Russian war effort in Ukraine, the United States would respond by limiting economic ties with China, as well as allowing a “much larger U.S. military budget to handle” with Beijing.

“The Chinese are facing a decision on whether they want to join Russia – against Europe and the United States – and should they do so, they will also urge the United States to treat China as one of its main opponents and lure it forward. Cold War confrontation. “

High level meeting

The heightened tensions sparked a meeting in Rome on Monday between US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and the director of China’s Foreign Affairs Office, Yang Jiechi.

Sullivan made Washington’s concerns “clear” to Yang during the negotiations, State Department spokesman Ned Price said after the meeting.

“We are following very closely the extent to which China [People’s Republic of China] or any country in the world provides support – materially, economically, financially, rhetorically otherwise – for this election war the president [Vladimir] Putin is fighting Ukraine, Price told reporters. “And we have been very clear – both privately with Beijing and publicly with Beijing – that there would be consequences for any such support.”

A senior US administration official later told reporters on condition of anonymity that the Sullivan-Yang meeting was an “intense seven-hour session”.

China’s state-owned news agency Xinhua said in a statement after the meeting on Monday that “Yang stressed that the Chinese side resolutely opposes any words and deeds that spread false information or distort and discredit China’s position.”

In recent weeks, China has abstained from a UN Security Council resolution condemning the Russian invasion and a similar resolution calling for a passed overwhelmingly in the UN General Assembly. The Security Council action was vetoed by Russia.

China too recently seemed to give credibility to Russian allegations that they had discovered a biological weapons program in Ukraine – accusations made by US, European and Ukrainian officials as part of a Russian disinformation campaign.

China-Russia-US relations

China and Russia enjoy warm ties, and in early February the two nations issued a lengthy joint declaration reaffirming their alliance and expressed resistance to NATO’s expansion – Russia’s biggest complaint leading up to its extensive invasion of Ukraine.

Meanwhile, relations between Washington and Beijing have been tested in the last few years, as the United States prioritized strategic competition with China in its foreign policy under former President Donald Trump, an attitude fully embraced by Joe Biden.

In the middle efforts to repair Relations between the United States and China irritated the Biden administration China as it secured an agreement with Britain to supply Australia with nuclear-powered submarines last year. Biden has also been pushing to revive the Asia Pacific Quad alliance with India, Australia and Japan and met with the countries’ leaders in the White House in September.

The four countries issued a joint statement after the negotiations, backing a “free, open, rule-based order, enshrined in international law and unafraid of coercion” in a clear message to China, which replied with reprimand the group as “exclusive” and said it was “doomed to fail”.

There have also been growing tensions between Beijing and Washington and its allies in the Asia-Pacific region – including over Taiwan and the South China Sea, the latter of which China claims almost exclusively as its own, despite competing demands from other countries in the region.

The Pentagon and U.S. lawmakers cited prominently to counter China by handing over this year’s $ 777.7 billion. defense budget.

“A big hope for the Chinese is that the conflict in Ukraine will draw American attention and US resources away from the Asia-Pacific region,” said Christopher Heurlin, associate professor of government and Asian studies at Bowdoin College in the US state of Maine. .

“Of course, they are trying to get the best out of the situation so that they can get something out of it if the US military attention and the European allies’ attention is directed more towards Russia and less towards China.”

But if China aims to prolong the war in Ukraine, US officials have threatened sanctions against Beijing. “It’s definitely something in the realm of opportunity,” Heurlin told Al Jazeera about the prospect of such sanctions.

“But it’s much harder, simply because of the much greater economic ties that the United States has with China. It’s clear that there are far more companies in the United States doing business with China. That would make it much more expensive to try. to link our economic relations with foreign policy. “

‘This war is not good for China’

China has made it clear that it does not want to face economic sanctions as a result of the war in Ukraine, as the United States and its Western allies have imposed swift and comprehensive sanctions against, among others, Russian banks, officials and wealthy elites.

“China is not a party to the crisis, much less wants to be affected by the sanctions,” said Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. said Tuesday.

Some US officials also stressed that it would be in China’s self-interest not to support Russia, and instead urged Chinese officials to use their influence with the Russian government to end the conflict.

“Our intention in our regular engagement with China… was to emphasize that this war is not good for China, that we want to see China use its influence with Russia to end this war, and at the very least to help get these humanitarian corridors underway, ”said Victoria Nuland, Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs told lawmakers last week.

In the end, China has so far shown that it wants to stay out of the war, said Ross, the professor.

But negotiations with the United States are tense because Beijing, like all great powers, does not like to be threatened, he added. “There was a tense conversation, but the United States came out of that meeting without any accusations against Chinese behavior,” Ross said.

“So it still seems clear that the Chinese have not yet done anything that would worry the Americans about excessive support for Russia.”

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