President Biden and China’s President Xi Jinping spoke on the phone for almost two hours on Friday as the White House tried to persuade Beijing not to send military aid in support of Russia’s war in Ukraine.
According to a White House read out In the call, Biden described “the implications and consequences of China providing material support to Russia in its brutal attacks on Ukrainian cities and civilians” and “underlined his support for a diplomatic solution to the crisis.”
It is not immediately clear how Xi will respond to Biden’s warnings or whether he has decided to help Russia, a senior administration official said during a briefing for reporters.
“The president really didn’t make any specific demands on China. He set out his assessment of the situation, what he believes makes sense and the impact of certain actions,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “We will see … what decisions China will make in the coming days and weeks,” the official said.
The call, the first contact between the leaders in four months, followed a long and tense meeting between the countries’ national security officials in Rome earlier this week. Friday’s potentially difficult call could mark a pivotal moment in Russia’s war against Ukraine and in Washington’s long-term relationship with Beijing.
Beijing’s official summary of the call described the conversation as “frank and deep” and did not condemn Russia’s invasion. It called for direct dialogue to “address the security concerns of both Russia and Ukraine” and declared that China “stands for peace and opposes war”.
“All sides must join forces to support Russia and Ukraine in conducting dialogues and negotiations that produce results and lead to peace,” the Chinese government said.
This declaration of at least outward-looking neutrality comes just a month after Xi and Russian President Vladimir Putin declared their countries enjoy a “friendship without borders.”
The call began at 9:03 a.m. ET and ended 1 hour and 50 minutes later, the White House said.
As the West champions the cause of Ukraine and imposes tough economic sanctions on Russia, Putin has grown increasingly isolated and desperate. Russian forces were somewhat surprisingly met by fierce Ukrainian resistance and were unable to make deep incursions into the country after more than three weeks of fighting.
As the war unfolds, China is offering Russia one of its last economic and military lifelines.
And while there’s no question that Xi and Putin agreed on many issues, Beijing must balance its allegiance to a weakened autocrat against its ties with key trading partners and the long-term risks of escalating a major conflict with the US and Europe.
Biden on Wednesday approved $800 million in additional defense assistance to Ukraine, a package that includes anti-tank and surface-to-air missiles, heavy munitions and drones. That comes just hours after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy delivered an impassioned address to a joint session of Congress, urging Biden and the US to do more to defend his country.
Although Russia and Ukraine have held peace talks, there is little evidence that Putin is serious about negotiating an end to the conflict, even after losing an estimated 7,000 to 9,000 fighters and struggling to maintain supply lines and find reinforcements. While Russia’s ground attack is struggling to make headway, Putin has made it
increasingly turned the struggle into a battle of attrition, indiscriminately bombing Ukrainian cities with no regard for civilians.
Xi also raised Taiwan, the senior administration official said. Biden expressed US support for the long-standing “one China” policy, which sees Taiwan as part of mainland China, and for maintaining the current status quo.
Tensions across the Taiwan Strait have risen in recent months as the self-governing island of 24 million people braces for a possible invasion by Chinese forces amid a surge in provocative military drills and the apparent likelihood that the Chinese Communist Party will attempt to carry them out has its long-cherished goal of “reuniting” Taiwan with the mainland.
https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2022-03-18/biden-speaks-with-chinas-xi-about-not-aiding-russias-war-in-ukraine Biden warns China not to support Russia’s war in Ukraine