Tuesday, January 24, 2023

China is confronted by the US with proof of businesses supporting Putin's conflict in Ukraine

US confronts China with evidence of companies aiding Putin’s war in Ukraine

 WASHINGTON: According to people familiar with the situation, the Biden administration has confronted the government of China with evidence that suggests some Chinese state-owned companies may be assisting Russia in its war effort in Ukraine. This is being done in an effort to determine whether Beijing is aware of those activities.

The individuals, who did not want to be identified because they were discussing private discussions, did not provide any details about the support other than to say that it consists of non-lethal military and economic assistance that does not involve completely evading the sanctions that the United States and its allies imposed on Russia after it invaded Ukraine.

The people said that the trend is so troubling that US officials have discussed it with their Chinese counterparts and warned them about the consequences of providing material support for the war, though they declined to provide specifics of those conversations. Despite offering to participate in peace talks and speaking out against the use of nuclear weapons in the conflict, President Xi Jinping has avoided expressing any criticism of Russia regarding the war.

The Central Intelligence Agency and a spokeswoman for the National Security Council declined to comment. Two inquiries for clarification were not answered by the Chinese Embassy in Washington. Even though the information isn't clear and is still up for debate, US officials said they agree that the relationship between China and Russia is very close now and that China is supporting Russia more than it used to.

The activities of the state-owned businesses were characterized as knowingly assisting Russia in its war effort by those who were familiar with the administration's thinking. They didn't go into detail about what kind of evidence the administration might have to back up that view.

The administration is looking over the evidence it has collected to figure out how important it is. The US's policy toward both Russia and China would be seriously impacted if it were determined that Chinese businesses were funding the invasion.

The United States' approach to Ukraine is based, in part, on trying to isolate President Vladimir Putin's government, stifle his economy, and impede the war effort. That strategy may be significantly undermined if China, the second-largest economy in the world, provides additional support.

Additionally, Biden and his advisors would have to decide how much to push back if they discovered that China's government was involved in or had implicitly accepted the actions of those state-owned businesses. At a time when the United States is attempting to strike a balance between its desire for stable ties with Beijing and moves to restrict Chinese access to high-end microchips and confront China over what it perceives as a more aggressive stance toward Taiwan, this may run the risk of creating an entirely new area of contention.

Last week, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen met with Vice Premier Liu He. In February, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will visit Beijing for the first time since the Covid-19 outbreak made it impossible to travel in the beginning of 2020.

Before the war, Russia and China declared a "no limits" relationship, and US officials believe China initially intended to sell Russia lethal weapons for use in combat. According to the individuals, the administration believes that China has scaled back that plan and is not contributing as much as it could to Putin's invasion.

According to the people, the administration is of the opinion that China's government is not neutral as it claims and wants to assist Russia. Despite US demands that other nations distance themselves from the Russian economy, China has also expanded its trade relationship.

China views American calls for other nations to restrict trade as a violation of sovereignty and, in principle, rejects any sanctions other than those agreed upon at the United Nations. In 2022, China's exports increased by 13% while Russia's imports increased by nearly 50% from the previous year.

In China, there are thousands of state-owned businesses. Some are directly controlled by the central government and have chief executives who are on par with ministers, while others are less closely supervised. Even though the specifics of their operations are not always closely monitored, all of them are susceptible to the influence of the Communist Party.

What US officials have publicly acknowledged as a problem would only become worse if the trend continued. Blinken claimed that he had communicated his concern regarding China's "alignment with Russia" after meeting a senior Chinese official in July.

Blinken stated at the time, "Now, what you hear from Beijing is that it claims to be neutral." To begin, I would suggest that it is quite challenging to maintain neutrality in the face of this aggression. An obvious aggressor is present. There is unmistakably a victim.

According to Chinese state television, Xi and Putin agreed to work together on trade, energy, finance, and agriculture during a phone call at the end of December. According to the broadcaster, Xi told Putin that Beijing would continue to constructively work toward resolving the "crisis" in Ukraine, despite the bumpy road to peace talks.

However, increasing Moscow's support would counteract recent indications that China is attempting to improve relations with the United States after months of increased tension. According to a statement from the White House, President Joe Biden and Xi stated in their meeting in Bali last year that they oppose "the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine" and that "a nuclear war should never be fought."

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