Chinese President Xi Jinping has told United States (US) President, Joe Biden during a secure video call that the ongoing crisis in Ukraine is in “no one’s interest”, according to a Chinese state TV.
The call, which began shortly after 9:00 am ET (13:00 GMT) on Friday, March 18, 2022, was months in the making, following the first virtual meeting between Biden and Xi in November 2021. The meeting came amid US’s growing concerns that Beijing may come to Moscow’s aid, either in giving military equipment or in bypassing sanctions in the increasing invasion on Ukraine by Russia.
State broadcaster CCTV reported Xi as telling Biden that “State-to-state relations cannot go to the stage of military hostilities. Peace and security are the most valued treasures of the international community.”
Prior to the exchange on Friday, March 18, 2022, US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, disclosed that the US President would make clear to Xi that China will bear responsibility if it supported Russia’s “aggression” and that Washington “will not hesitate to impose costs”.
Mr. Blinken said Washington is concerned China may consider directing assistance to Russia with military equipment for use in Ukraine, something Beijing denied despite reports that Moscow has formally placed the request.
Already, Beijing, for its part, has maintained close economic ties to both Kyiv and Moscow, hence, stressing Ukraine’s sovereignty while avoiding direct condemnation of Russia’s acts.
However, according to Chinese officials, Russia has legitimate security concerns that need to be addressed, echoing Russian claims that US is secretly working on biological weapons in Ukraine. But the US and the United Nations slammed the claims.
According to reports by one media firm’s Kimberly Halkett in Washington, DC, “the West, and the United States specifically, has had this sense that China has really been trying to play both sides with regard to this conflict.”
“The West is hoping that they can really encourage China to use its economic might over Russia, its influence to try and even bring about a ceasefire in this conflict.”Reporter, Kimberly Halkett
Meanwhile, speaking to reporters later on Friday, March 18, 2022, shortly before the call, US Deputy Secretary of State, Wendy Sherman, called on Xi to tell Russian President, Vladimir Putin, “to end this war of choice, this war of carnage” in Ukraine.
“China needs to stand on the right side of history. It needs to ensure that it does not backfill, financially or in any other way, sanctions that have been imposed on Russia.”US Deputy Secretary of State, Wendy Sherman
Political Risk Analyst, Ross Feingolf, disclosed that while Beijing remained tightly bound to the US and other Western economies, it is unclear what leverage Biden will employ in his appeal to Xi.
“Especially keeping in mind that [Washington] does want China to buy more from the United States as well and fulfil the terms of the phase one trade agreement. This is a tough call literally and figuratively for Biden.”Political Risk Analyst, Ross Feingolf
The war in Ukraine began with a Russian offensive on Thursday, February 24, 2022. The Russian bombardment has by far, killed some hundreds of civilians, reduced city areas to rubble and sparked a humanitarian crisis as millions have fled the country.