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Despite fears that China may help Russia avoid economic sanctions and may even provide military support to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s regime, China’s ambassador to Ukraine told officials in the western city of Lviv this week that his country will support Ukraine both economically and politically.
“We will always respect your state, we will develop relations on the basis of equality and mutual benefit. We will respect the path chosen by Ukrainians, because this is the sovereign right of every nation,” Fan Xiangong, who relocated with the Chinese embassy from Kyiv to Lviv after Russian forces invaded on Feb. 24, told Lviv officials on Monday, according to the Lviv regional government.
“In this situation, which you have now, we will act responsibly. We have seen how great the unity of the Ukrainian people is, and that means its strength,” Fan added.
Gordon Chang, author of “The Great U.S.-China Tech War,” said it’s surprising to see a Chinese official express such strong support for the Ukrainian people, but that Beijing needs to follow through with actions to convince the world of its stance on the war.
“These words really don’t mean anything until China stops buying Russian commodities, and it stops letting Russian institutions use its financial system, and it stops its propaganda that is amplifying Russia’s ludicrous positions,” Chang told Fox News Digital. “These comments are fascinating, but nonetheless, I want to see action rather than words.
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Beijing and Moscow have cultivated close ties in recent years, with Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping declaring last month that “friendship between the two States has no limits” following the Russian President’s visit to China for the Winter Olympics.
On Monday, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan met with his Chinese counterpart in Rome, one day after reports came out that Russia asked China for economic and military aid in its invasion of Ukraine, which both countries deny.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday that Sullivan was “very direct about the consequences” if Beijing offered military or economic assistance to the Kremlin.
“We’re going to be watching closely,” Psaki said. “But in terms of any potential impacts or consequences, we’ll lead those through private diplomatic channels at this point.”
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Chang said that China is concerned about the potential Western backlash from helping Russia, especially after the United States and European allies unleashed a rash of unprecedented sanctions against Putin and the Russian economy.
“I think that Beijing is certainly worried about the United States imposing sanctions on China, so what they’re trying to do is to forestall that with easy-to-issue words,” Chang said. “But the question is, what are they really going to do? And that’s going to be critical, so this is something that we’re just going to have to wait and see.”
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Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi noted Monday that China is trying to steer clear of Western sanctions and would like to see a ceasefire negotiated between Russia and Ukraine.
“China is not a party to the crisis, nor does it want the sanctions to affect China,” Wang told his Spanish counterpart over the phone, according to a readout of the conversation from the Chinese foreign ministry. “China has the right to safeguard its legitimate rights and interests.”