China faces consequences if it helps Russia evade sanctions, US says

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WASHINGTON, March 13 (Reuters) – U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan, who is due to meet China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi in Rome on Monday, has warned Beijing that he will “absolutely” face consequences if he helps Moscow escape sweeping sanctions against the war in Ukraine.

Russia asked China for military equipment after its Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, sparking concern in the White House that Beijing could undermine Western efforts to help Ukrainian forces defend their country, several officials said. Americans.

Sullivan plans during his meeting with Yang to clarify Washington’s concerns while mapping the consequences and growing isolation China would face globally if it increased its support for Russia, a US official said, without provide details.

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Asked about Russia’s request for military aid, first reported by the Financial Times, Liu Pengyu, spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy in Washington, said: “I’ve never heard of it.” .

He said China finds the current situation in Ukraine “puzzling” and added, “We support and encourage all efforts that lead to a peaceful settlement of the crisis.”

Liu said “greatest efforts should be made to support Russia and Ukraine in pursuing negotiations despite the difficult situation to produce a peaceful outcome.”

Sullivan told CNN on Sunday that Washington believed China was aware that Russia was planning action in Ukraine ahead of the invasion, though Beijing may not have understood the full extent of what was planned.

After the invasion began, Russia sought both military hardware and support from China, US officials said.

Sullivan told CNN that Washington is watching closely to see how much Beijing is providing economic or material support to Russia, and will impose consequences if it happens.

“We are communicating directly, privately to Beijing, that there will absolutely be consequences for large-scale sanctions-busting efforts or support for Russia to fulfill them,” Sullivan said. “We will not allow this to continue and for there to be a lifeline for Russia from these economic sanctions from any country, anywhere in the world.”

The meeting, which had been planned for some time, is part of a broader effort by Washington and Beijing to keep communication channels open and manage competition between the world’s two largest economies, a senior official said. the Biden administration.

No specific results were expected, the source added, speaking on condition of anonymity.

U.S. White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan speaks to the media about the situation in Ukraine during a daily press briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 11, 2022. REUTERS/Leah Millis/File Photo

Wang Huiyao, head of a Beijing think tank and adviser to the Chinese government, warned of “an escalating spiral” in a column published in the New York Times on Sunday, and said China was “in uniquely positioned to act as a neutral mediator between a Western-backed Ukraine and Russia” to end the war.

“As distasteful as some in the West may find the idea, it’s time to offer the Russian leader an exit ramp with China’s help,” Wang wrote.

US officials were skeptical of the proposal given China’s ties to Russia and its dissemination of war-related misinformation.

COMMERCIAL LINKS BETWEEN CHINA AND RUSSIA

The United States said on Saturday it would provide up to $200 million in additional weapons to Ukrainian forces as they try to defend against Russian bombardment in Europe’s biggest war since World War II. Read more

Washington and its allies have imposed sweeping and unprecedented sanctions on Russia and banned its energy imports, while providing billions of dollars in military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine. Read more

Individually and together, they called on China, the Gulf countries and others who did not condemn the Russian invasion to join in isolating Russia from the global economy.

Beijing, a key Russian trading partner, has refused to label Russia’s actions an invasion, although Chinese President Xi Jinping last week called for ‘maximum restraint’ in Ukraine after a virtual meeting with the chancellor. German Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron. Read more

Xi also expressed concern over the sanctions’ impact on global finance, energy supply, transportation and supply chains, as growing signs indicate that Western sanctions are limiting China’s ability to buy. Russian oil. Read more

However, Hu Xijin, former editor of China’s state-backed Global Times newspaper, said on Twitter: “If Sullivan thinks he can persuade China to participate in sanctions against Russia, he will be disappointed.”

While in Rome, Sullivan will also meet with Luigi Mattiolo, diplomatic adviser to Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, to continue coordinating the strong global response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “war of choice”, the US official said.

Washington and the advanced economies of the Group of Seven on Friday increased pressure on Russia by calling for the revoking of its “most favored nation” trade status, which would allow them to raise tariffs on Russian goods. Read more

Trade accounted for around 46% of Russia’s economy in 2020, much of it with China, its main export destination.

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Reporting by Andrea Shalal, Michael Martina, David Brunnstrom and Costas Pitas; additional reporting by Ismail Shakil; Editing by Sandra Maler, Marguerita Choy, Heather Timmons and Cynthia Osterman

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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