China is considering giving Russia weapons and ammunition for the war in Ukraine, U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said. Blinken told CBS News that Chinese companies are already providing “non-lethal support” to Russia – but new information confirms that Beijing could provide “lethal support”.
This escalation would mean “serious consequences” for China, he warned. Kina has denied a report that Moscow has asked for military equipment.
Kina’s President Xi Jinping is an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin and has not yet condemned the Russian invasion – or sought to remain neutral in the conflict and has called for calm.
Blinken spoke to CBS News after meeting top Chinese diplomat Wang Ji at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday. He said that during the meeting he expressed “deep concern” about “the possibility of China providing lethal material support to Russia”.
“To date, we have seen Chinese companies … providing non-lethal support to Russia for use in Ukraine. The bias that we now have is based on the information that we have to deal with the provision of lethal support”, he said.
“To date, we have seen Chinese companies … providing non-lethal support to Russia for use in Ukraine. The concerns we have now are based on the information we have that they are considering providing lethal support,” he said.
Blinken did not specify what information the US had received about China’s potential plans. When pressed to say what the US believed China might give to Russia, he said that it would be mainly arms and ammunition.
The US has sanctioned a Chinese company for allegedly passing on satellite images of Ukraine to the Wagner mercenary group, which supplies Russia with thousands of fighters. Blinken told CBS that “of course, in China, there really is no difference between private companies and the state.”
If China were to provide arms to Russia, it would cause “a serious problem for us and our relations”, he added. Relations between Washington and Beijing were already bad after the US shot down an alleged Chinese spy balloon in early February.
The two sides exchanged harsh words, but both sides were equally embarrassed by the incident and seemed ready to move on. However, if China had supplied arms to help Russian forces in Ukraine, relations between the US and China would have deteriorated much more seriously. Blinken’s warning seems clearly intended to dissuade China from doing so./RSE/