Beijing maintains an “independent” stance on the Ukraine crisis, a spokesperson for China’s foreign ministry, Zhao Lijian, said during a press conference on Friday. The remark came in response to threats made by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who warned China on Thursday that Washington would “impose costs” on it should Beijing choose to support Moscow.
Lijian stated that “on the Ukraine issue, China has always acted objectively and impartially and made independent judgments based on the merits of the matter itself.”
The Chinese diplomat also stressed that pressure from Washington would not make Beijing change its stance. He added that some US officials were still trying to spread disinformation regarding China’s position – something Lijian described as irresponsible and not conducive to the resolution of the crisis.
In China’s view, the US ought to “seriously reflect on its role in the Ukraine crisis,” as well as “earnestly assume its due responsibilities.” Lijian also called on Washington to “take practical actions to ease the situation and solve the problem, rather than continue to add fuel to the fire.”
On Friday, US President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping will hold talks via telephone, with the Ukraine crisis high on the agenda. Biden is expected to repeat warnings made earlier by Blinken regarding any possible actions China may take to “support Russia’s aggression.”
On Thursday, China’s Commerce Ministry spokesperson, Gao Feng, made it clear that China opposed “any form of unilateral sanctions that have no basis in international law.” According to the official, such punitive measures “not only fail to resolve security issues, but also harm the lives of ordinary people, disrupt global markets, and make the world’s already slowing economy even worse.”
The statement came hard on the heels of Jake Sullivan’s warning to China on Sunday, in which Joe Biden’s national security adviser cautioned that Beijing would “absolutely” face consequences should it help Moscow evade Western sanctions.
Since February 24, when Russia launched its military offensive against Ukraine, the US, Canada, the whole of the EU, as well as several other nations, have slapped a slew of crippling economic sanctions on Moscow. The country’s central bank and several major commercial banks, as well as entire industries, have been targeted.
China has consistently refused to impose punitive measures on Russia.
Moscow attacked its neighbor last months following a seven-year standoff over Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the 2014-15 Minsk agreements, and Russia’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics in Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered protocols had been designed to regularize the status of those regions within the Ukrainian state.
Russia also outlined the goals to “demilitarize” and “denazify” the country. Kiev maintains the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.