China defends its Ukraine stance ahead of Xi-Biden video call

U.S. President Joe Biden will urge Chinese Communist Party (CCP) general secretary Xi Jinping not to aid Russia in its war in Ukraine during a scheduled phone call on Friday, according to Foreign Policy magazine.

The call comes after a number of news reports citing U.S. officials as saying that Russia has asked China for assistance, including supplies of military food rations.

“[The conversation] 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,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Thursday.

On Thursday, foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian defended China’s stance on Ukraine as “upright, fair and objective, and beyond reproach.”

“The countries that should really be feeling uncomfortable are those that think they have won the Cold War and can dominate the rest of the world … those countries that continued to promote NATO’s eastward expansion despite concerns of other countries … those countries that start wars everywhere but call other countries warmongers,” he told a regular news briefing in Beijing.

Zhao, a proponent of China’s more outspoken brand of “wolf warrior” diplomacy, went on to ridicule international sanctions against Russia.

“I heard that Russian cats, Russian dogs, and Russian trees will be sanctioned,” he said. “I also heard that Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake has been banned. Tchaikovsky … has been dead for more than 100 years. What can he be guilty of?”

State news agency Xinhua said Xi would “exchange views with U.S. President Joe Biden on China-U.S. relations and issues of mutual concern” on Friday evening Beijing time.

Xinhua meanwhile cited “experts” from France, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, India, Uzbekistan, Kenya, Iran, Namibia, Egypt and Pakistan as supporting China’s position on the Ukraine war.

China has declined to refer to the war as an invasion, says it supports peace talks and a diplomatic solution, and rejects media reports suggesting it may assist the Russians.

The Xinhua article quoted Liazid Benhami, vice-chairman of the Paris-France-China Friendship Association — which is under the aegis of the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP)’s United Front Work Department — as saying that CCP leader Xi Jinping has demonstrated China’s responsible role as a major power, and believes that China will play an active role alongside the international community on the situation in Ukraine.

Sun Kai, a former reporter with a Beijing-based newspaper, said he had never heard of any of the “experts” cited by Xinhua.

“These people are not particularly famous,” Sun told RFA. “They will always look for people who are pro-China, and if they can’t find any, they sometimes make up institutions and names that nobody has ever heard of before.”

“It’s fake,” he said.

State Department spokesman Ned Price declined to speculate on China’s response to U.S. concerns during a press briefing on March 16, but said Washington remained keen to keep open the channels of communication with Beijing.

“This is probably the most consequential bilateral relationship on the face of the Earth,” Price said. “It is incumbent upon us as a responsible country to see to it that the competition that characterizes our relationship doesn’t veer into the realm of conflict.”

But he said Beijing had been notably absent from the international chorus of condemnation of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“We’ve yet to see … that sort of unambiguous statement from [China],” Price said, warning that any effort to compensate Russia for financial losses under international sanctions would “cost” China.

Hours ahead of the presidential call, the Chinese aircraft carrier Shandong sailed through the Taiwan Strait, Taiwan’s defense ministry said on Friday.

Taiwan has never been ruled by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), nor formed part of the People’s Republic of China, but Beijing hasn’t ruled out invading the democratic country by force to achieve what it terms “unification.”

The carrier appeared around 30 nautical miles to the southwest of Taiwan’s Kinmen Island at around 10:30 a.m. and was photographed by a passenger on a Taiwanese civilian flight, the defense ministry said.

Taiwan defense spokesman Shih Shun-wen confirmed the report, adding that the island’s military had a full grasp on the activities of Chinese aircraft and vessels in the Taiwan Strait and would safeguard national security.

Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.



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