China mulling giving weapons to Russia amid war, US claims
The United States accuses China of planning to supply Russia with arms in the midst of the Ukraine war as Washington gives arms to Kiev.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday that China was considering the provision of arms to Russia in the midst of the Ukraine war, warning that arms supplies from Beijing to Washington would "cause a serious problem."
"The concern that we have now is based on information we have that they're considering providing lethal support," Blinken told CBS's Face The Nation.
Asked about what the arms supplies from China would include, Blinken claimed that it would include "everything from ammunition to the weapons themselves."
Blinken made similar claims during a series of interviews with American television from Germany in light of his attending of the Munich Security Conference, during which he met with his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi.
"If China provides material support to Russia or assistance with systemic sanctions evasion," there will be consequences, he told Wang, a State Department official said.
He told Wang then that "if China provides material support to Russia or assistance with systemic sanctions evasion," there will be consequences, a State Department official said.
Washington's comments come at a time of strained ties with Beijing, which have been recently put to the test by the United States shooting down a Chinese balloon over its airspace.
Wang called out the US' mishandling of the fiasco as" absurd and hysterical" and "100% an abuse of the use of force", adding that he considered that the Biden administration has a "misguided" perception of Beijing, accusing Washington of trying to "smear" the Asian giant.
"There are many balloons from many countries in the sky. Do you want to down each and every one of them?" he asked, urging the US "not to do such preposterous things simply to divert attention from its own domestic problems."
The last time the two nations came face-to-face was when US President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping met at the G20 summit in November.
Biden shared Thursday his intentions to discuss the balloon incident with Xi but will not apologize for shooting it down. "I hope we are going to get to the bottom of this, but I make no apologies for taking down that balloon," he said.
This follows Blinken's postponement of his visit to China after the downed balloon headlined global news, as coordinator for Strategic Communications at the National Security Council John Kirby assured that this was not the time to destabilize relations with China. Beijing denies it uses spy balloons and says the craft was for weather research. It accused Washington of sending its own espionage balloons over its territory -- which the US has denied.
The claims about China sending arms to Ukraine follow Saturday reports that said Washington was concerned that China might be planning to send lethal military support to Russia.
A report published by NBC News on Saturday, citing four US officials, claimed that while China has helped Russia promote its 'disinformation campaign' regarding the war in Ukraine, the move to send non-lethal assistance to Russia would be considered tangible direct assistance to be used by the Russian military in Ukraine.
The United States had warned China just a few weeks after the beginning of the war against supporting Russia in light of the Ukraine war.
According to a report by CNN last January, Washington raised concerns with China over evidence found that indicates that firms in Beijing are sending non-lethal military assistance to the Russian military fighting in Ukraine.
However, US officials claim that the military assistance is coming directly from China's government.
The officials noted that it is not yet clear whether the assistance violates existing sanctions, nor if the United States will adopt new sanctions on China, however, according to sources close to the Biden administration, Washington will not hold back on targeting those who violate Western sanctions on Russia.
In response, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said Sunday that Beijing would never accept that US "finger-pointing" target China-Russia relations and calls on Washington to work toward a political settlement of the Ukraine crisis instead of deteriorating the situation.
Chinese Central Foreign Affairs Office Director Wang Yi and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken held a meeting on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference.
"We never accept the US's finger-pointing or even coercion targeting China-Russia relations," the foreign ministry said in a statement published after the meeting.
The United States, as a major power, should "work for a political settlement of the [Ukraine] crisis instead of fanning the flames or profiteering from the situation."