U.S. criticises China for supporting Putin while seeking to strengthen Western ties

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Vedant Patel

17th May 2024 – (Washington) The U.S. has criticised China for its continued support of Russian President Vladimir Putin, particularly following his recent state visit to Beijing. This visit, which marks a significant moment in international relations, comes as the U.S. expresses growing concerns over China’s geopolitical choices.

During a press briefing, State Department spokesman Vedant Patel pointedly remarked, “The People’s Republic of China can’t have its cake and eat it too.” He emphasised the contradiction in China’s actions, which appear to straddle an impossible line between fostering better relationships with Western nations and supporting Russia, amid its contentious military activities in Ukraine.

According to Patel, “It can’t have it both ways and want to have (better) relationships with Europe and other countries while simultaneously continuing to fuel the biggest threat to European security in a long time.” This statement refers directly to Russia’s ongoing conflict in Ukraine, which the West views as a severe breach of international peace and security.

This rebuke from the U.S. follows a series of diplomatic engagements, including a visit by Secretary of State Antony Blinken to Beijing last month, where concerns were raised about China’s role in bolstering Russia’s defence capabilities. Although China has not been directly supplying weapons to Russia, U.S. officials charge that Chinese support has enabled Russia to undertake its most significant military expansion since the Soviet era.

During his visit to Beijing, Putin was received warmly by Chinese President Xi Jinping, with both leaders pledging to deepen their “comprehensive strategic partnership”. The optics of the meeting were clear, positioning the Sino-Russian relationship as a counterbalance to Western influence, which both nations characterise as destabilising.

The U.S. State Department reiterated that China’s actions contradict its proclaimed intentions of fostering good relations with Europe and other Western nations. “If China purports to want good relations with Europe and other countries, it cannot continue to fuel the biggest threat to European security,” a spokesperson highlighted, echoing a sentiment shared by the European Union, NATO, and the G7.

Putin’s visit to China, his first official international engagement since securing a fifth term, underscores the deepening alliance between Russia and China. This visit comes as the conflict in Ukraine enters its third year, with the U.S. and its allies intensifying efforts to isolate Russia diplomatically.

The State Department underscored the difficulty Russia would face in sustaining its military campaign without Chinese support. “No country should give Putin a platform to promote his war of aggression against Ukraine,” the spokesperson stated, stressing the need for accountability for violations of international law and war crimes committed during the conflict.

In response to these developments, Jonathan Ward, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, noted, “At this point, a Russia-China axis has formed, and the United States and Europe have fully caught on to China’s support for Russia’s war efforts in Europe.”