Bristling against US claims that Beijing may be poised to send “lethal support” to help Russia’s war in Ukraine, China accused the Biden administration on Monday of spreading lies and defended its close partnership with Russia.
Later the same day, China’s most senior foreign policy official arrived in Moscow for talks, according to Russian state media.
The remarks, by a spokesman from the Chinese ministry of foreign affairs, were part of a series of moves by China as the country’s leader, Xi Jinping, tries to keep Russia close — but also repair ties with western powers.
He has sought to preserve relations with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia while casting Beijing as a blameless onlooker in his invasion of Ukraine, trying only to coax Moscow and Kyiv into peace talks.
Over the weekend, the US secretary of state, Antony J. Blinken, indicated that he had evidence that, behind the scenes, Beijing was tilting toward stronger support for Putin and “considering providing lethal support to Russia in its aggression against Ukraine”.
Such a step would be a major shift for China, which has defended its broader economic, energy and political ties with Moscow but not supplied it with weapons, ammunition or other battlefield equipment for the invasion.
Blinken said he had warned his Chinese counterpart that there would be serious consequences were that to occur.
Asked about the accusations from Blinken and other US officials, Wang Wenbin, a spokesman for the foreign ministry, suggested that, on the contrary, it was the US that was implicated in bloodshed in Ukraine.
“It’s the US, and not China, that has been incessantly supplying weapons to the battlefield, and the US is not qualified to issue any orders to China,” Wang told a news conference in Beijing.
Washington, Wang added, should “stop shirking responsibility and disseminating fake news. China will continue firmly standing on the side of dialogue and the side of peace”.
Wang was asked about reports that Wang Yi — China’s most senior foreign policy official — was supposed to arrive in Moscow.
Wang, the top official, had attended the Munich Security Conference, where he met Blinken and gave a speech defending China’s position on Russia and the war in Ukraine.
Tass, the Russian state news agency, later reported that Wang had arrived in Moscow.
US officials are watching Wang’s trip closely, which comes after the Chinese official spoke in Munich in defence of Beijing’s position on Russia and the war in Ukraine.
“We are deeply concerned by the expanded and extended crisis,” Wang said.
New York Times News Service