US tells China its support for Russia complicates relations

NUSA DUA, Indonesia (AP) — China’s support for Russia’s war in Ukraine complicates U.S.-China relations at a time when they are already plagued by divisions and enmity over many other issues , US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told his Chinese counterpart on Saturday. .

During five hours of talks at their first meeting since October, Blinken said he expressed deep concern to Foreign Minister Wang Yi about China’s stance on Russia’s actions in Ukraine and that he did not believe Beijing’s protestations that he was neutral in the conflict.

The talks had been staged in a new effort to try to curb or at least manage the endemic hostility that has come to define recent relations between Washington and Beijing.

“We are concerned about the alignment of the PRC with Russia,” Blinken told reporters after the meeting in the Indonesian resort of Bali. He said it is difficult to be “neutral” in a conflict in which there is a clear aggressor but even that was possible, “I don’t believe China is acting neutrally.”

The Biden administration had hoped that China, with its long history of opposing what it sees as interference in its own internal affairs, would take a similar stance with Russia and Ukraine. But he did not, choosing instead what U.S. officials see as a hybrid stance that undermines the rules-based international order.

Blinken said every nation, including China, stands to lose if this order is eroded.

The pair met a day after both attended a gathering of senior diplomats from the Group of 20 rich and major developing countries that ended without a joint call to end Russia’s war in Ukraine or plan on how to manage its impacts on food and energy. Security.

However, Blinken said he believed Russia came out of the G-20 meeting isolated and alone, with most participants voicing their opposition to the war in Ukraine. However, ministers were unable to reach a unified G-20 call to end the conflict.

“There was a strong consensus and Russia was left isolated,” Blinken said of individual condemnations of Russia’s actions by various ministers, some of whom avoided conversations with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

He noted that Lavrov left the meeting early, possibly because he didn’t like what he was hearing from his counterparts.

“It was very important that he heard loud and clear from around the world the condemnation of Russia’s aggression,” Blinken said, adding, “We don’t see any signs that Russia, at this point, is ready to engage in diplomacy”.

Regarding China, Blinken said he and Wang discussed a range of contentious issues ranging from tariffs to trade and human rights in Taiwan and disputes in the South China Sea which have all been complicated by the Chinese position on Ukraine.

Just two days earlier, the countries’ top military officers faced off in Taiwan in a virtual meeting. Blinken said the self-governing island that Beijing claims as its territory was just one of a series of problematic issues.

He said he underscored US concerns about China’s “increasingly provocative rhetoric and activities near Taiwan and the vital importance of maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.” He added that he had also raised human rights concerns about minorities in Tibet and the western region of Xinjiang.

Entering the talks, Wang said “it is necessary for the two countries to maintain normal exchanges” and “work together to ensure that this relationship will continue to move forward on the right track.”

Wang also echoed frequent Chinese lines about sticking to the principles of “mutual respect”, “peaceful coexistence” and “win-win cooperation”. This, he said, “serves the interests of both countries and both peoples. It is also the common aspiration of the international community.

US officials had said in advance that they expected no breakthrough from Blinken’s talks with Wang. But they said they hoped the conversation could help keep lines of communication open and create “guardrails” to guide the world’s two largest economies as they navigate ever-increasing business. complex and potentially explosive.

“We are committed to managing this relationship, this competition responsibly, as the world expects,” Blinken said.

The United States and China have taken increasingly confrontational positions, including on Ukraine, which some fear could lead to miscalculations and conflict. The United States cautiously observed China’s refusal to criticize the Russian invasion, while condemning Western sanctions against Russia and accusing the United States and NATO of provoking the conflict.

“We are concerned about the PRC’s alignment with Russia,” Blinken said, adding that he did not accept Chinese protests that it was neutral in the Ukraine conflict. “I don’t believe China is acting neutrally.”

The Biden administration had hoped that China, with its long history of opposing what it sees as interference in its own internal affairs, would take a similar stance with Russia and Ukraine. But he did not, choosing instead what U.S. officials see as a hybrid stance that undermines the rules-based international order.

At the G-20 meeting, Wang made an indirect reference to China’s policy on global stability, saying “putting one’s own security above others’ security and stepping up military blocs will only divide the international community and make themselves less secure,” according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

On Thursday, the Chairman of the Chinese Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Li Zuocheng, criticized his American counterpart, General Mark Milley, for Washington’s support for Taiwan.

Li demanded that the United States cease military “collusion” with Taiwan, saying China had “no room for compromise” on issues affecting its “core interests”, which include Taiwan’s autonomy, which Beijing threatens to annex by force if necessary.

“China demands that the United States…stop reversing history, end US-Taiwanese military collusion, and avoid affecting China-US relations and stability in the Taiwan Strait,” he said. said Li.

Meanwhile, Li was also quoted in a Defense Ministry press release as saying that China hopes to “further strengthen dialogue, manage risks and promote cooperation, rather than deliberately creating confrontation, provoking incidents and to mutually exclude each other”.

China regularly flies fighter jets near Taiwan to announce its threat of attack, and the island’s Defense Ministry said Chinese air force planes had crossed the center line of the Taiwan Strait, dividing the two sides on Friday morning.

The meeting between Li and Milley follows fiery comments by Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe at a regional security conference last month also attended by US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.

Wei accused the United States of trying to “hijack” support from countries in the Asia-Pacific region and turn them against Beijing, saying Washington was seeking to advance its own interests “under the guise of multilateralism”.

At the same meeting in Singapore, Austin said China was causing instability with its claim to Taiwan and increased military activity in the region.

In May, Blinken angered Chinese by calling the country “the most serious long-term challenge to the international order” for the United States, with its claims on Taiwan and its efforts to dominate the strategic South China Sea. .

The United States and its allies have responded with what it calls “freedom of navigation” patrols in the South China Sea, prompting angry reactions from Beijing.


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