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China asserted Tuesday that it was completely “impartial” over the conflict in Ukraine and dismissed so-called “disinformation” from the U.S. government, suggesting that China agreed to send military equipment to Russian troops.
China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian – who hasn’t openly criticized Russian President Vladimir Putin for launching an invasion of Ukraine three weeks ago and has called the conflict the “Ukraine issue” instead of war – made the remarks to reporters during his daily press conference.
“China’s position and statement on the Ukraine issue is completely objective, impartial and constructive,” Zhao said, according to a translation by The Associated Press. “We have a clear goal, that is to promote the de-escalation of the situation and end the conflict as soon as possible.”
According to the transcript of his remarks shared to the Chinese foreign affairs website, Zhao said, “China’s position and statement on the Ukraine issue is completely objective, just and constructive. We have a clear goal, that is, to deescalate the situation and put an end to the conflict as soon as possible. We believe China’s position will receive understanding and support from more and more countries.”
Though the two translations differed slightly, the message was the same. Zhao criticized the U.S. by nodding to China’s contention that Russia was provoked by NATO’s expansion and threats to its security.
“What the U.S. should do is to deeply reflect on the role it has played in the development and evolving of the Ukraine crisis, and do something practical to ease the tension in Ukraine,” he said.
Zhao’s comments came a day after U.S. adviser Jake Sullivan and senior Chinese foreign policy adviser Yang Jiechi met in Rome over the Biden administration’s increasingly concerns that China is using the Ukraine war to advance Beijing’s long-term interest in its competition with the United States.
Speaking to CNN Monday, before the seven-hour face-to-face meeting with his Chinese counterpart, Sullivan said the U.S. is “communicating directly, privately to Beijing that there will absolutely be consequences for large-scale sanctions evasion efforts or support to Russia to backfill them.”
The Kremlin has denied reports it requested Chinese military equipment for use in the war.
Zhao on Tuesday said China opposed the use of sanctions from the West, currently pummeling the Russia economy. He again dismissed reports that China agreed to send aid to Russia as “disinformation.”
He also said a third batch of humanitarian aid sent by China for Ukraine arrived in Poland on Monday.
“China is committed to facilitating dialogue for peace, and believes that the international community should jointly support the peace talks between Russia and Ukraine for early substantive outcomes, so as to deescalate the situation as soon as possible,” Zhao said. “All parties should exercise maximum restraint, protect civilians and prevent a massive humanitarian crisis. China has provided emergency humanitarian assistance to Ukraine and will continue to make its efforts to that end. China firmly opposes any words and deeds that spread disinformation and distort and smear China’s position.”
Zhao repeatedly dodged reporter follow-up questions about Russia’s alleged request for aid. He also condemned U.S. statements about Taiwan and reissued warnings of consequences for any nation that intervenes in Taiwan, claiming the move would attack “China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
China’s relationship with Taiwan has come into focus against the backdrop of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with the island bolstering its own defenses since the war started in case of aggression from the mainland.
Taiwan said it planned to double its yearly missile-production capacity this year. China has taken a more aggressive stance against the Democratic island nation, sending a record number of fighter jets into Taiwan’s air defense zone late last year. And last month, as Russian tanks rolled into Ukraine, nine Chinese aircraft entered Taiwan’s air defense zone, prompting a broadcast warning from the island nation.
On Tuesday, the European Union ambassador to China, Nicolas Chapuis, appealed to China to support Ukraine and “help Europe to stop the war.”
“There can be no so-called neutrality,” Chapuis said during a roundtable discussion hosted by the Center for China and Globalization, a Beijing-based thinktank. “We really call upon all our Chinese friends to name the aggressor and to stand by the victim.”
“We have been playing a constructive part in promoting peace talks,” he said. “The top priority at the moment is for all parties to exercise restraint, cool the situation down instead of adding fuel to the fire, and work for diplomatic settlement rather than further escalate the situation.”
Fox News’ Brie Stimson and The Associated Press contributed to this report.