WASHINGTON – Officials from the United States and China met on Monday to discuss a range of challenges facing their bilateral relationship, including Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine.
A senior administration official described the talks, which were held in Rome, as “intense” and spanning at least seven hours.
The official, who spoke to reporters on the condition of anonymity, said Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan conveyed to China’s top diplomat, Yang Jiechi, that the U.S. is concerned Beijing may attempt to help Russia blunt global sanctions.
National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan speaks during the daily press briefing at the White House in Washington, DC, on August 23, 2021.
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“What I would say in general is that we do have deep concerns about China’s alignment with Russia,” the official said. “The national security adviser was direct about those concerns and the potential implications and consequences of certain actions,” the official added.
Sullivan’s trip comes on the heels of reports that Moscow requested that China provide military equipment for its war in Ukraine. The official downplayed the timing of the trip when pressed by reporters.
“This meeting had been planned for some time,” the official said, adding that schedules were coordinated between U.S. and Chinese officials last fall.
Beijing has denied reports that it was asked by Moscow for military equipment or any other assistance to support its ongoing military campaign in Ukraine. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov denied allegations that Russia requested military support from China on Monday.
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a Victory Day military parade marking the 74th anniversary of the end of World War II.
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“We are watching very closely to the extent to which the PRC or any country in the world provides support material, economic, financial, rhetorical otherwise, to this war of choice that President Putin is waging against the government of Ukraine, against the state of Ukraine and against the people of Ukraine,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said at a separate press briefing on Monday, referencing the People’s Republic of China.
“We have been very clear both privately with Beijing and publicly with Beijing that there would be consequences for any such support,” Price added.
“If China does choose to materially support Russia in this war, there will likely be consequences for China in that regard,” a senior Defense official said on a call with reporters on Monday.
“We have seen China basically give tacit approval to what Russia is doing by refusing to join sanctions by blaming the West and the United States for the assistance we’ve given Ukraine and by claiming they wanted to see a peaceful outcome but essentially doing nothing to achieve it,” the official added.