US Is Worried China May Make Big Move for Russia

Blinken says Beijing might supply weapons, a major escalation of aid
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 20, 2023 11:17 AM CST
US Is Raising the Alarm About China Helping Russia
In this 2022 file photo, Chinese President Xi Jinping, right, and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet in Beijing.   (Alexei Druzhinin, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP, File)

On the eve of the one-year anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the US appears to be increasingly alarmed that China is about to start helping Vladimir Putin in a big way. If Beijing does so, it threatens not only to prolong the war but to turn the conflict into a showdown among superpowers. Coverage:

  • Weapons: Secretary of State Antony Blinken told Face the Nation on CBS News over the weekend that China is considering giving Russia "lethal support"—as in, weapons and ammunition. "We've made very clear to them that that would cause a serious problem for us and in our relationship."
  • Other help: The US believes China already is providing nonlethal support to Moscow, reports NBC News. That might include uniforms or even body armor ahead of an expected spring offensive. Blinken said Chinese companies were providing unspecified nonlethal support, per CBS, "and, of course, in China, there's really no distinction between private companies and the state."

  • The implications: If China crosses the line from nonlethal to lethal aid, the consequences are significant, writes Edward Wong in a New York Times analysis. It "would transform the nature of the conflict, turning it into an epochal struggle involving all three of the world's largest superpowers and their partners on opposing sides: Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea aligned against the United States, Ukraine, and their European and Asian allies and partners, including Japan and South Korea."
  • China responds: Blinken has been issuing warnings both publicly and privately over the last few days, and a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman says the US should butt out. "We will never accept the US pointing fingers at Sino-Russian relations or even coercing us," said Wang Wenbin, per Reuters. What's more, China's top diplomat is about to visit Moscow and may visit Putin himself, the news agency reports. The diplomat, Wang Yi, previously accused the US of "hysterical" behavior over the shootdown of the infamous Chinese balloon.
  • Biden trip: The potential meeting between Putin and China's top diplomat comes as President Biden made a surprise visit to Ukraine. Biden denounce the "brutal and unjust war" before departing after a five-hour visit, per the AP.
(More US-China relations stories.)

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