China rejects US ‘pressure or coercion’ over Russia
Beijing won’t sanction or condemn Russia over the conflict in Ukraine, and will reject American “pressure or coercion” to change its relationship with Moscow, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters on Thursday. China has remained publicly neutral on the conflict, with Zhao saying this position puts it “on the right side of history.”
“China is playing a constructive role in the Ukraine issue," Zhao told a press briefing, claiming that Beijing has “made considerable efforts to de-escalate the situation, defuse the crisis and rebuild peace."
“We oppose unfounded accusations and suspicions against China, nor will we accept any pressure or coercion,” Zhao continued. “Time will tell that China’s claims are on the right side of history.”
China has from the outset called for a negotiated settlement to the conflict in Ukraine, and has affirmed both Ukraine’s right to territorial integrity and Russia’s legitimate security concerns. It has continued to trade with Russia, and has joined Moscow in urging the investigation of the US’ alleged biological weapons development in Ukraine. Furthermore, Beijing’s diplomats have opposed or abstained from UN resolutions condemning Russia.
This stance has incurred the scorn of leaders in the US and Brussels. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki has repeatedly called on China’s leaders to “assess where they want to stand as the history books are written,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has declared that China now poses a “challenge” to the alliance, and most recently, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen called for Beijing to use its “special relationship with Russia” to force an end to the conflict.
“The world’s attitude towards China and its willingness to embrace further economic integration may well be affected by China’s reaction to our call for resolute action on Russia,” Yellen told the Atlantic Council, a pro-NATO think tank partly funded by the weapons industry, on Wednesday.
China’s stance is unlikely to change. In addition to reaping the opportunities for trade that Russia’s excommunication from western markets has presented, Beijing has vowed to resist potential US sanctions on its companies as a result of this trade. Furthermore, China has dismissed US media reports suggesting it is preparing to offer Russia military assistance. US officials later admitted that these reports were based on faulty intelligence, and released to the press to win an “info war” against the Kremlin.