US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping are scheduled to speak on Friday, but prior to the event, both countries accused each other of providing military assistance to the countries they support and of exace1rbating the Russia-Ukraine conflict. China emphasised its appeals for peace talks and humanitarian aid donations to Ukraine on Friday while accusing the US of aggravating Russia and stoking the war by delivering armaments to Ukraine. On the other hand, the White House warned Beijing that providing military or economic support to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine would result in serious consequences from Washington and beyond.

The talk has been in the works since Biden and Xi held a virtual summit in November, but the call is anticipated to focus on tensions between Washington and Beijing over Russian President Vladimir Putin’s handling of his war against Ukraine. Biden would confront Xi about Beijing’s verbal backing for Putin and the “lack of repudiation” of Russia’s deadly invasion of Ukraine, according to White House press secretary Jen Psaki. She further added that it is an opportunity to assess President Xi’s position on the ongoing war.

On the other hand, at a daily press briefing, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said that every effort should be made to avoid civilian casualties at all times. Taking a shot at US weapons shipments to Ukraine, Lijian posed the question, “Which do the civilians in Ukraine need more; food and sleeping bags or machine guns and artillery?” He then went on to add, “It’s easy to answer.”

US & China at odds since beginning of Russia-Ukraine war

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s government tried to distance itself from Putin’s attack in Ukraine in the days following Russia’s military offensive but avoided condemning Moscow. Moreover, on several occasions, Beijing’s actions have been aggressive, such as reinforcing Russian assertions that Ukraine was running chemical and biological weapons labs with US assistance. Notably, China fueled Russian claims earlier this month that the US is funding research into the development of biological weapons in Ukraine and called for an investigation. The United States retaliated by accusing China of spreading a conspiracy theory and escalating a dispute over public perceptions of the Russia-Ukraine war.

The US notified Asian and European partners earlier this week that American intelligence had assessed that China had signalled to Russia that it would be willing to provide both military and financial support to help Russia avoid the impact of harsh sanctions imposed by the West. Since the start of Biden’s administration, the long-troubled US-China relationship has only become worse. Biden has regularly chastised China for military provocations against Taiwan, human rights violations against ethnic minorities, and efforts in Hong Kong to silence pro-democracy activists. The Russian incursion, though, may have brought the relationship to a new low.

(Image: AP)