U.S. Ambassador Burns deems China’s resolute support for Russia “extremely concerning” amid Ukraine crisis efforts

Nicholas Burns

22nd February 2024 – (Beijing) As the anniversary of the Ukraine invasion approaches, Western nations, led by the United States and the United Kingdom, are intensifying pressure on China to recalibrate its support for Russia. The U.S. Ambassador to China, Nicholas Burns, characterised China’s unwavering political and diplomatic backing of Russia as “extremely concerning”, amidst global efforts to quell the conflict in Ukraine.

In a statement that underscored the frustration of Western powers, Ambassador Burns highlighted the disappointment with China’s stance, particularly as the two-year mark of the conflict nears. He pointed out that the support from Chinese firms was bolstering Russia’s defence sector, a development that has not gone unnoticed by Washington. China’s reticence on Ukraine’s sovereignty, according to Burns, is a significant source of concern.

China’s proximity to Russia has been under scrutiny since the declaration of their ‘no-limits’ partnership just before the Russian incursion in 2022. Despite international outcry, Beijing has refrained from criticising Moscow’s actions and has seemingly tightened its alliance, while maintaining a facade of neutrality.

In a recent development, the European Union took action against three Chinese mainland companies and one from Hong Kong, citing their involvement in supporting Russia’s military efforts. These sanctions come on the heels of China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s assurances to Ukraine that China does not trade lethal weaponry with conflict zones.

In a similar vein, the U.K. Ambassador to China, Caroline Wilson, called for Beijing’s deeds to align with its declarations. At an event in Beijing, hosted by the Polish, Ukrainian, and EU embassies, she stressed the need for China to cease support that extends Russia’s military capabilities. She further urged China to actively engage with Ukraine’s peace initiatives.

Adding to the call for solidarity, Ukraine’s Ambassador to China, Pavlo Riabikin, solicited international participation in a peace conference organised by Ukraine with Switzerland’s support. The Swiss Foreign Minister, Ignazio Cassis, indicated that during his recent visit to China, there were clear signs of Chinese desire for a resolution to the conflict.