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Ukraine war: Biden speaks with Xi for two hours over concerns China will back Russia

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President Joe Biden spoke with Chinese President Xi Jinping for nearly two hours on Friday, the White House said.

The call between the two leaders was part of what Biden administration officials describe as an “ongoing effort to maintain open lines of communication” between the world’s two largest economies.

A White House statement announcing the call said Mr Biden and Mr Xi would discuss “managing competition” between the US and China, as well as “Russia’s war on Ukraine and other issues of common concern.”

Mr. Biden should be pressing Mr. Xi on whether China would take steps to help Russia circumvent or mitigate the effects of crippling sanctions imposed on the US, European Union and other Western nations in the wake of Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine have imposed.

In February, Mr. Xi and Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that their respective nations had entered into a borderless partnership intended to counterbalance alliances between the US and other democracies such as NATO.

However, it is unclear whether Beijing saw support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as part of that partnership, although Moscow has reportedly asked China for weapons and other military materiel, including ready meals for troops.

A reading of the call released by China’s Foreign Ministry reported that Mr Xi has noted “new important developments in the international landscape” since the two leaders first met virtually in November 2021.

The statement said what China has dubbed the “Ukraine crisis” is “not something we want to see.”

“Events show once again that countries should not get to meet on the battlefield. Conflict and confrontation are in nobody’s interest, and peace and security are what the international community should value most,” she added.

Ahead of the conference call, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken indicated that Mr. Biden “will make it clear that China will bear responsibility for any action it takes in support of Russian aggression and we will not hesitate to impose costs.”

“We are concerned that they are considering directly assisting Russia with military equipment for use in Ukraine,” Mr Blinken said on Thursday.

China has denied such plans but has refused to condemn Russia’s actions in Ukraine or call it an invasion, and has censored online content in China that is pro-Western or unfavorable to Russia.

While recognizing Ukraine’s sovereignty, Beijing also said Russia had legitimate security concerns that should be addressed and was urging a diplomatic solution to the conflict.

While the Biden administration has threatened unspecified countermeasures if China backs Russia’s efforts in Ukraine, officials have increasingly come to terms with the likelihood.

The US and its allies have not yet decided exactly what steps to take against China, according to a person involved in those talks.

Targeting Beijing with the kind of sweeping economic sanctions against Russia would have potentially dire consequences for the US and the world, given that China is the second largest economy and the largest exporter.

A seven-hour meeting in Rome on Monday between junior advisers to Mr Biden and Mr Xi was described by officials as “tough” and “intense”.

Mr. Biden’s administration has yet to provide evidence to support claims that China has signaled its willingness to help Russia.

Moscow has declined to ask China for military support, and China’s foreign ministry called the idea “disinformation.”

Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said this week the country was counting on China to resist the blow to its economy by punishing Western sanctions aimed at isolating Russia’s economy from the rest of the world.

The Independent has a proud history of campaigning for the rights of the most vulnerable and we first ran our Refugees Welcome campaign during the war in Syria in 2015. Now we are renewing our campaign and launching this petition in the wake of the unfolding Ukraine crisis we urge the government to go further and faster to ensure aid is delivered. To learn more about our Refugees Welcome campaign, click here. to sign the petition click here. If you would like to donate, then please click here for our GoFundMe page.

Reuters contributed to this report

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/biden-xi-ukraine-russia-china-b2039062.html Ukraine war: Biden speaks with Xi for two hours over concerns China will back Russia

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