(CNSNews.com) – As China this week renewed its call on the U.S. and other Western countries to “stop fanning the flames” in Ukraine and halt sanctions against Moscow, Russia’s foreign minister expressed gratitude for Beijing’s stance on the war and hailed deepening bilateral relations.
“We highly appreciate the balanced and unbiased stance of our Chinese friends regarding the situation in and around Ukraine,” Sergei Lavrov said during a video message to participants of a conference on Russia-China cooperation.
The U.S. and its allies have imposed an array of sanctions on Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine, while providing significant military aid to help the Ukrainians defend their country.
Lavrov told the conference – a two-day event hosted by the Russian International Affairs Council and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences – that he was sure “the hybrid war unleashed by the collective West against Russia opens up new opportunities for expanding Russian-Chinese practical cooperation, including in investment and finance.”
“Despite the sanctions pressure and the information war on the part of the United States and its satellites, we manage not only to maintain the entire range of bilateral [Russia-China] cooperation in working order, but also to saturate it with an up-to-date substantive agenda.”
Lavrov recalled that Presidents Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping had at a meeting earlier this year “adopted a weighty political document” underlining common positions on international security and other issues, and including the provision that there are “no forbidden areas for cooperation.”
“Tectonic shifts in the modern geopolitical landscape serve as an additional catalyst for deepening foreign policy coordination between Moscow and Beijing,” he said, asserting that positions held by Russia and China “on the vast majority of topical issues on the global and regional agenda coincide or are very close.”
He pointed to joint efforts to strengthen the “central coordinating role of the U.N. in world affairs,” and to ensure that all countries’ voices are heard, so that “a narrow clique of Western countries led by the United States will no longer be able to dictate to the world its own rules of the game.”
On the same day as Lavrov spoke, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said the West should stop “fanning the flames” in Ukraine and end the sanctions.
Asked at a press briefing what steps China has taken to broker peace, including any interactions with Ukrainian leaders, Zhao said he had “no information to release” on communication with Ukraine.
Zhao also said Beijing was “making use of every opportunity to call for a ceasefire.” But asked if China had called on Putin to support a ceasefire, he took the questioner to task, saying, “There is no need to draw a particular connection between China’s position and President Putin.”
No ‘business as usual’
Secretary of State Antony Blinken the same day took a question during an event in Washington on Chinese efforts to provide material support to Russia in the face of the sanctions.
He said the administration has thus far “not seen from China any systematic effort to help Russia evade sanctions, nor have we seen any significant military support from China to Russia.”
“On the other hand, the so-called ‘no limits’ partnership that President Xi and President Putin signaled just weeks before the Russian aggression – we certainly see aspects of that continuing, particularly China continuing to advance Russia’s efforts politically and diplomatically, parroting some of the Russian propaganda, even amplifying it,” Blinken said.
He said China risks damaging its reputation, and advised it to consider the exodus of hundreds of major companies from Russia following its invasion of Ukraine.
Those companies, including leading world brands, left not only because of the sanctions, he said, but also because they decided “that they were not going to do business as usual in a country that was committing this kind of aggression.”
“That’s something I think that China also has to factor in, as it thinks about its relationship with Russia, what support it does provide, as well as thinking about its own policies going forward in its more immediate neighborhood,” Blinken said.
(Regulatory and other pressures have seen foreign companies including Airbnb, Yahoo, eBay, and Microsoft’s LinkedIn scale back or withdraw their operations in China. This week Amazon said it was closing its Kindle bookstore in the country.)
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