On Thursday, Jen Psaki, White House Press Secretary said “The fact that China has not denounced what Russia is doing in and of itself speaks volumes.” she said Biden’s call with Xi, is “an opportunity for him to speak directly, leader to leader, about a range of issues. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will be a part of that. And what role or how President Xi sees the role of China in that conflict.”
China’s muted response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has hardened views within the Biden administration that President Xi Jinping may be moving closer to supporting Moscow as the conflict continues. Even as the Chinese government has publicly voiced support for the Ukrainian people and called for a peaceful solution, top American officials see signs that China is seeking ways to soften the blow of sanctions imposed on Russia.
China might be able to offset the economic consequences of the sanctions. China appears to be considering supplying Russia with weapons such as armed drones.
Russia asked China for financial and military assistance shortly after touching off the war. Beijing denies that it has silently backed the invasion and Chinese officials have rejected U.S. reports, labeling them as disinformation.
President Biden is set to speak by phone with Xi on Friday at 9 a.m. in Washington, with China’s stance over Ukraine high on the agenda. The president will call on China to use its influence over Putin to urge Russia to end the war.
“His future is with the United States, with Europe, with developing countries around the world. His future is not with Russia and Vladimir Putin.” If Xi, “wants to be a true leader on the world stage,” he will side with Ukraine and the U.S., said Wendy Sherman. “We will see whether in fact Xi Jinping makes the right choice here.”
After a six-hour meeting on Monday in Rome in which White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan warned China’s top diplomat, Politburo member Yang Jiechi, of serious consequences should Beijing support Russia through its banks or on the battlefield. The stakes are potentially ground-shifting.
Chinese officials have said they seek to foster a diplomatic solution to the crisis. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian, accused the U.S. of “creating and spreading false information.” On Thursday, the Foreign Ministry in Beijing endorsed comments from its ambassador to Ukraine vowing to never attack the country and praising the strength and unity of the Ukrainian people.