Bolton wages turf war with China on Ukraine trip as he scrambles to block Motor Sich deal
On an anti-China charm offensive in Ukraine, US National Security Advisor John Bolton talked up Ukraine’s sovereignty and right to trade with whoever it wants, right after bashing Beijing at length for ‘unfair practices.’
Speaking to reporters in Kiev on Wednesday, Bolton addressed a potential buyout deal between two Chinese firms and Ukrainian aircraft producer Motor Sich, and made Washington’s disapproval clear.
“We laid out our concerns about… unfair Chinese trade practices, threats to national security we’ve seen in the United States,” Bolton said. When asked about the Motor Sich deal specifically, he told reporters it was a sovereign matter for Ukraine to decide.
Sovereign or not, Bolton never concealed which way Washington would like the deal to go, talking about what he called Chinese “debt diplomacy,” and accusing Beijing of intellectual property theft, which he said has gone on “for decades.”
Motor Sich is currently seeking approval from trade authorities in Ukraine to sell a controlling stake in the firm to two Chinese companies, after a previous sale of shares was blocked in 2017 over fears that Chinese firm Beijing Skyrizon would take Motor Sich’s assets abroad. Washington has lobbied against the sale all along, and ultimately dispatched Bolton in an apparent last-ditch attempt to get a foot in the door.
Despite its opposition to the Motor Sich deal, the US has not presented any alternative, prompting one Ukrainian lawmaker to comment last summer: “If the Americans do not want us to sell to the Chinese, let them buy our aircraft engines.” Washington has disbursed billions in aid to Ukraine in recent years, including 1.5 billion in military hardware since 2014.
Wading further into the region’s economic affairs, Bolton also expressed “concern” about the Nord Stream 2 pipeline – a massive project to expand the Nord Stream line across Europe, spearheaded by Russian energy firm Gazprom – which is now 75 percent complete. The US has slammed the pipeline add-on as a threat to European energy supplies.
Asked about Bolton’s recent remarks regarding Chinese “economic influence,” a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry slammed the national security advisor for trying to “drive a wedge between China and other countries,” but added that his comments were “nothing new.”
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