WASHINGTON – The United States and China called for a diplomatic resolution to the war in Ukraine during a call between its leaders on Friday (March 18), but differed on assigning blame for the conflict and over Beijing’s role in pressuring Moscow to halt its invasion.
China’s President Xi Jinping told his US counterpart Joe Biden that “all sides need to jointly support Russia and Ukraine in having dialogue and negotiation that will produce results and lead to peace”, according to a Chinese foreign ministry statement released after the two-hour video call.
Mr Xi added that China had put forward a six-point initiative on the humanitarian situation in Ukraine, and was ready to provide further humanitarian assistance to Ukraine and other affected countries.
Mr Biden detailed the efforts of America and its allies to prevent and then respond to “Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine”, including by imposing costs on Russia, the White House said in a statement.
It added that Mr Biden “described the implications and consequences if China provides material support to Russia as it conducts brutal attacks against Ukrainian cities and civilians”.
Beijing has denied reports that it was willing to provide Moscow with military or economic aid.
A senior administration official who spoke to reporters after the call declined to specify exactly what sort of penalties the US would impose on China if it armed Moscow or helped it circumvent international sanctions.
The US official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, also did not say how Mr Xi responded to Mr Biden.
But Beijing, which is wary of getting hit by Russia-related sanctions, criticised international sanctions as a solution, highlighting their impact on global stability and the livelihoods of billions.
“Sweeping and indiscriminate sanctions would only make the people suffer. If further escalated, they could trigger serious crises in global economy and trade, finance, energy, food, and industrial and supply chains, crippling the already languishing world economy and causing irrevocable losses,” said the Chinese statement.
Analysts noted that Beijing continued to refuse to condemn Russia for its invasion, as it balances between presenting itself as a responsible superpower while staying aligned with Moscow.
Instead, Beijing alluded to what Moscow has called “legitimate security concerns” over Nato expansionism near its borders, which Russian president Vladimir Putin cited as a reason for his military campaign against Ukraine.