In the recent phone call between Presidents Joe Biden and Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China, the conversation focused on Putin’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. President Biden laid out the efforts taken by the United States and its Allies to prevent and then respond to Russia’s war against Ukraine, including by imposing costs on Russia. The White House said President Biden “described the implications and consequences if China provides material support to Russia as it conducts brutal attacks against Ukrainian cities and civilians.”
Recently, the PRC and Russia have grown closer. In February, their leaders signed a joint statement declaring the two countries’ relationship as a partnership “without limits.” The PRC has failed to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the killing and displacement of innocent civilians and the destruction of its cities. Biden Administration officials have voiced concern that the PRC may be considering assisting Russia with military equipment and economic support that would allow Russia to mitigate the impact of sanctions imposed by countries around the world in response to its aggression.
After the call, White House Spokesperson Jen Psaki said President Biden was satisfied he had clearly conveyed to President Xi the consequences for the PRC if it were to help Putin’s war effort, and she noted that the lines of communication between the United States and the PRC remain open. Now, she said, “President Xi has to decide what he’s going to do here.”
State Department Spokesperson Ned Price emphasized that it is the responsibility of every country to make clear where it stands on Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine. Because of its relationship to Russia, the PRC, he said, “could bring an end to this violence, this bloodshed, this destruction, and this war. But we have not seen that yet.”
For years, Spokesperson Price noted, China has stressed the importance of the sovereignty of all states. When sovereignty comes under attack, he declared, “countries around the world have an opportunity to demonstrate whether what they have said...actually means anything. . .If the PRC wants to show the world that it means what it says, that it stands behind the principles that it has claimed to stand behind for years and decades,” said Mr. Price, “now is an opportunity for them to do so.”