Ukraine casts long shadow as US Jake Sullivan meets Beijing’s foreign policy chief Yang Jiechi
Ukraine casts long shadow as US Jake Sullivan meets Beijing’s foreign policy chief Yang Jiechi

Ukraine casts long shadow as US Jake Sullivan meets Beijing’s foreign policy chief Yang Jiechi

China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi met with US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan in Rome on Monday. war in Ukraine threatened to become a new source of tension between the two countries.

In a one-line report Monday afternoon, China’s state-run CCTV said the couple had met without elaborating. The United States has not yet commented on the meeting.

The meeting between Sullivan and Yang, a member of the Politburo and the Foreign Minister of the Communist Party, took place the following day. Sullivan warned Beijing that it would face serious “consequences” if it helped Russia avoid sanctions.

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Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry, dismissed US media reports that Moscow had asked Beijing for military assistance.

“The US side has repeatedly spread disinformation about China on the Ukraine issue, and they are very bad intentions,” he said Monday in Beijing.

Last month, Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for the ministry, said: “As a powerful country, I do not think Russia needs China or other countries for arms supply.”

Washington said Sunday that the meeting should exchange views on “regional” issues and keep the lines of communication open.

Beijing said the two would discuss “international and regional issues of common interest” without mentioning Ukraine by name.

European Union spokeswoman Nabila Massrali said no EU officials would meet Yang during the trip.

She also said that Brussels had “no evidence” that Russia had asked China for military aid, saying: “We can not confirm or deny any allegations that Russia asked for assistance from China. And while we note the Joint Declaration of 4 February highlighting the rapprochement between China and Russia, we have no evidence that such a request was made by China. “

“But we are in close contact with the United States on all issues related to the war in Ukraine, including Russia’s position,” she added.

On Monday, Reuters reported, citing unnamed U.S. officials, that the United States would use the meeting to clarify the economic sanctions Beijing would face if it helped Russia in its war with Ukraine.

Pang Zhongying, professor of international relations at Ocean University of China, said: “This meeting will be the key for the United States to decide whether China can still be neutralized or whether this ‘no-limit’ partnership between China and Russia formed a solidarity. , which are so strong that there is no need or it is impossible for the United States to treat them separately.

“If their assessment is the latter, then it will certainly affect future China policies and in particular their Indo-Pacific strategy.

“Two things in the Ukraine discussion will help the United States draw this conclusion: whether China will supply weapons to Russia, and whether it will provide an economic lifeline to Russia.

“Of course, how China presents itself is unknown right now. But the big question is whether it is too late for China to withdraw from its previous position. [presented since the war]. “

So far, China has refused to condemn Russia’s attack on Ukraine, but has also promised to remedy the worsening humanitarian crisis there. It has also shown support for Russia’s security concerns, but has called for dialogue and de-escalation.

Member of the Chinese Politburo and Foreign Policy Chief Yang Jiechi. Photo: AFP alt = member of the Chinese Politburo and foreign policy chief Yang Jiechi. Photo: AFP>

Ren Xiao, a professor specializing in China-US relations at Fudan University, said he believed the two sides would try to limit Ukraine’s impact on their relations and Beijing would express its dissatisfaction with US position on Taiwan.

“China’s policy towards Ukraine has been quite clear and these are likely to continue. China will not agree to Western sanctions,” he said.

“It is already a good sign that both sides are willing to communicate it [we should not] set expectations that would be too high. “

Lu Xiang, a researcher in American studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said there were reasons for optimism.

“As you can see from the statements released this time, it does not mean that China has ‘agreed to meet at the invitation of the United States’, or vice versa, which means that China has some degree of proactivity involved in wanting to communicate.”

He said that at previous meeting between Sullivan and Yang in Alaskawhich was also attended by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Chinese Secretary of State Wang Yi, “there was still some confusion about who gets the lead and the last word in things between Sullivan and Blinken, but this time it is clearer that “Yang and Sullivan are both leaders’ top advisers,” Lu said.

Yang and Sullivan also met in the Swiss city of Zurich in October. “What China wants to achieve at this meeting is to ask the United States to calm down and not do anything that will further stimulate the situation,” Lu said.

This article originally appeared in South China Morning Post (SCMP), the most authoritative voice that has reported on China and Asia for more than a century. For more SCMP stories, please explore SCMP app or visit the SCMPs Facebook and Twitter pages. Copyright © 2022 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

Copyright (c) 2022. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

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