Blinken claims China ‘strongly considering’ providing Russia with ‘lethal assistance’
( Hill )
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said China is “strongly considering” providing Russia with “lethal assistance” in its nearly yearlong war with Ukraine.
Blinken, who met with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on the margins of the Munich Security Conference on Saturday, said he warned Beijing against such a move.
“China is trying to have it both ways,” Blinken told NBC News’s Chuck Todd in an interview set to air on Sunday. “Publicly, they present themselves as a country striving for peace in Ukraine. But privately, as I said, we’ve seen already over these past months the provision of non-lethal assistance that does go directly to aiding and abetting Russia’s war effort.”
He added that further information indicates that Beijing is considering providing “materiel support to Russia’s war effort that would have a lethal effect.”
However, Blinken noted that China has not yet provided lethal assistance to Russia.
“We see China considering this. We have not seen them cross that line,” he said. “So, I think it’s important that we make clear, as I did this evening in my meeting with Wang Yi, that this is something that is of deep concern to us.”
“I made clear the importance of not crossing that line and the fact that it would have serious consequences on our own relationship, something that we do not need on top of the balloon incident that China is engaged in,” Blinken added.
U.S.-China relations have been particularly tense in recent weeks, after a suspected Chinese spy balloon was spotted hovering over the U.S. The balloon spent about a week traversing the U.S., before it was shot down off the coast of South Carolina on Feb. 4.
Blinken’s trip to Beijing was postponed amid the balloon drama, with a State Department official calling the balloon’s presence in U.S. airspace a “clear violation of our sovereignty as well as international law.”
Wang, who serves as the director of the Office of the Central Foreign Affairs Committee, mocked Washington’s response to the Chinese balloon while at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday, calling it “hysterical.”
Blinken’s interview with NBC News’s “Meet the Press” will air on Sunday morning on NBC.