As the all-out Russia-Ukraine war escalates, the US on Monday held an “intense” discussion with China in an attempt to dissuade Beijing from offering arms supply to Moscow. US National Security Advisor (NSA) Jake Sullivan met with his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi in Rome where he raised a range of concerns, including China’s link with Russia, which the White House sees critical not just for Ukraine but for the global balance of power. At the meeting, NSA Sullivan also underscored the importance of open lines of communication between the US and China.
The pre-planned meeting between the US NSA and his counterpart followed up on the November 15, 2021, virtual conference between US President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, the White House said in a Twitter post following the meeting. “It was an intense seven-hour session, reflecting the gravity of the moment, as well as our commitment to maintaining open lines of communication,” a senior White House official said, as quoted by The Guardian. The meeting comes at the time when several reports suggest Moscow has called for military support from Beijing. Meanwhile, Washington has warned Beijing of isolation and penalties accusing it of helping Russian aggression against Kyiv.
‘Don’t add fuel to fire’: China warns US
Meanwhile, media reports suggesting Beijing showed a willingness to supply weapons to Russia infuriated China. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian accused US officials of disseminating “malicious information” with “sinister intentions.” Lijian said, “Beijing’s position in the Ukraine issue is consistent and clear…China has been playing a constructive role in promoting peace talks.” In a rather metaphorical speech, he also urged all parties to maintain “restraint” and avert from adding “fuel to the fire.”
UN ‘deeply concerned’ on Russia-China alignment: US
Following the pre-planned meeting between Sullivan and Jiechi, a senior US official raised concern over Russia-China “alignment” amid the ongoing Moscow-Kyiv war. “We do have deep concerns about China’s alignment with Russia at this time, and the national security adviser was direct about those concerns and the potential implications and consequences of certain actions,” the official said, under conditions of anonymity, as quoted by PTI. Noting the gravity of the hour, the official also described the much-talked-about meeting as a commitment to improving crisis communication between two nuclear powers.