White House warns China over sanctions
The US has hinted at retaliation against China should it avoid following sanctions imposed on Russia after its attack on Ukraine late last month. Beijing, meanwhile, consistently argued that economic restrictions only exacerbate conflicts.
During Monday’s press briefing, White House spokesperson Jen Psaki was asked if sanctions will push Moscow into deeper ties with Beijing.
“They can’t backfill the impact of these sanctions from China. It’s just not possible,” Psaki argued. “Now, we’ve also seen China abide by the sanctions that have been put in place.”
At the same time, Psaki noted that Beijing abstained when the UN General Assembly voted to condemn Russia’s attack on Ukraine last week.
“If they don’t abide by the sanctions, we always have – you know, we clearly have means to take steps, but that’s what we’ve seen to date,” the White House spokesperson said.
China has backed a diplomatic solution to the conflict and has consistently spoken out against economic restrictions. “We are deeply concerned with the ever-increasing unilateral sanctions, which are not a fundamental and effective way to solve the problem,” Zhang Jun, China’s envoy to the UN, said on Monday. “They will have serious humanitarian consequences and spillover effects that will hurt other countries.”
Speaking to reporters the same day, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi called Moscow his country’s “most important strategic partner.” The friendship between the two is “ironclad,” he said.
Many countries, including the US, UK, and EU member states, imposed sweeping sanctions on Russia in response to its military campaign launched against Ukraine on February 24. Russia insisted that it was defending the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, which broke away from Ukraine shortly after the 2014 coup in Kiev. Russia also said it wants Ukraine to become a neutral country that will never join NATO.
Kiev said the attack was entirely unjustified and denied claims that it was planning to retake the breakaway republics by force.