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20 Apr, 2024 23:50

Blinken to warn China against helping Russia in Ukraine conflict

The top US diplomat plans to threaten Beijing over weapons-related exports
Blinken to warn China against helping Russia in Ukraine conflict

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken intends to warn Chinese officials of consequences for exporting materials to Russia with potential military applications, when he travels to Beijing on Wednesday.

Blinken, who is scheduled to make stops in Beijing and Shanghai during a three-day trip to the People’s Republic of China (PRC), plans to meet with Foreign Minister Wang Yi. He will “reiterate deep concerns regarding the PRC’s support for Russia’s defense industrial base,” a US State Department spokesman told reporters.

At issue are China’s exports of machine tools, microelectronics, optics, and other products that could be used to make weapons amid the conflict in Ukraine. US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen issued a similar warning when she visited China earlier this month.

“The concern there is that through Chinese support, Russia has largely reconstituted its defense industrial base, which has an impact not just on the battlefield in Ukraine, but poses a larger threat, we believe, to broader European security,” the State Department spokesman said. “So that’s deeply concerning to us. We’ll express those concerns to China, and we will express our intent to have China curtail that support.”

The State Department has warned that it will take “further steps as necessary” to deter China from aiding Russia’s defense industry. “We’re committed to taking the steps necessary to defend our national interests, and we’re prepared to take steps when we believe necessary against firms that are taking steps in contravention to our interests and in ways that – as we’ve indicated here – severely undermine security in both Ukraine and Europe,” the spokesman said. 

Blinken raised the issue when he met with G7 leaders earlier this week in Italy. He will not specify the potential punishments during talks in Beijing, but new sanctions could target Chinese financial institutions, the Financial Times reported, citing unnamed people familiar with the matter. 

The US is being “very direct” about its concerns and will “hold China accountable” for its actions in providing dual-use technologies to Russia while trying to strengthen its ties with Europe, Deputy Secretary of State Kurt Campbell said. “What we’ve tried to underscore with European and Chinese interlocutors is that these dual objectives are inconsistent, and that we want China to think very carefully about the way forward.”

Chinese officials have maintained a policy of neutrality on the Ukraine conflict and have insisted that Beijing is not selling weapons to Russia. They have bristled at the allegations of violating Western sanctions imposed on Moscow.

“China regulates the export of dual-use articles in accordance with laws and regulations,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Mao Ning told reporters earlier this week. “Relevant countries should not smear or attack the normal relations between China and Russia and should not harm the legitimate rights and interests of China and Chinese companies.”