China will work to de-escalate war in Ukraine, diplomat says

China’s top envoy to Washington pledged his country “will do everything” to de-escalate the war in Ukraine, but refused to condemn Russia’s attack and branded such requests “naive.”

“There’s disinformation about China providing military assistance to Russia,” Ambassador Qin Gang said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday. China isn’t sending “weapons and ammunitions to any party,” he said, calling Beijing’s “common interests” with Russia an “asset” that could help peace talks.

“Condemnation doesn’t solve the problem,” he added. “I would be surprised if Russia will back down by condemnation.”

Qin’s comments came days after President Joe Biden warned President Xi Jinping of “implications and consequences” should China support Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Xi assured Biden his country didn’t want the war, according to Chinese readouts of the video call on Friday — the first between the two leaders since the invasion.

China is walking a diplomatic tightrope as the Biden administration steps up international pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin to end the attacks. While Beijing has said it opposes the war, it has stopped short of blaming Putin for the invasion that came weeks after Xi declared a “no limits” friendship with the Russian leader.

Chinese Ambassador to the United States Qin Gang speaks in Yorba Linda, California, on Feb. 24, during an event to mark the 50th anniversary of former U.S. President Richard Nixon's historic visit to China. | KYODO
Chinese Ambassador to the United States Qin Gang speaks in Yorba Linda, California, on Feb. 24, during an event to mark the 50th anniversary of former U.S. President Richard Nixon’s historic visit to China. | KYODO

Hu Xijin, former editor-in-chef of the Communist Party backed Global Times newspaper, said Sunday that Beijing’s “back-to-back” strategic relationship with Moscow was critical to its long-term ability to oppose what he characterized as U.S. efforts to limit China’s rise.

“Two countries — China and Russia — resisting U.S. hegemony verses one country facing the U.S. alone are completely different geopolitical dynamics,” he said in a post on China’s Twitter-like Weibo, where he has some 24 million followers.

“If the U.S. carries out extreme strategic coercion against China, with Russia as a partner, China will not be afraid of the U.S. imposing an energy blockade,” he added. “Our food supply will be more secure, as will many other raw materials.” Hu did not post the comments to his Twitter account.

Hu’s pro-Russia comments echoed that of China’s Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng in a Saturday speech that framed NATO’s eastward expansion as the catalyst for the war, and equated that policy with the U.S.’s Indo-Pacific strategy, which Beijing views as a plan to contain it.

“The Indo-Pacific Strategy is as dangerous as the NATO strategy of eastward expansion in Europe,” Le told the Fourth International Forum on Security and Strategy via video link. “If allowed to go on unchecked, it would bring unimaginable consequences, and ultimately push the Asia-Pacific into a fiery pit.”

The chorus of support for Moscow in China comes in the wake of what U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield called an “extraordinarily frank” conversation between Xi and Biden.

“We made our position clear to the Chinese,” she said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday. “They’re in an uncomfortable position.”

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