Blinken Reproves China Counterpart Over Support for Russia

Blinken Reproves China Counterpart Over Support for Russia

NUSA DUA, Indonesia—U.S. Secretary of State

Antony Blinken

admonished Beijing over its support for Russia in a meeting with his Chinese counterpart, a sign of how the invasion of Ukraine is complicating efforts to put relations between the two superpowers on steadier footing.

“More than four months now into this brutal invasion, the PRC still stands by Russia,” Mr. Blinken said, using the acronym for the People’s Republic of China, in a press briefing after the meeting. He pointed to Beijing’s support for Moscow at the United Nations, dissemination of Russian talking points through Chinese state media and joint military exercises with Moscow.

The Biden administration wants to ensure that China, which this year signed a broad cooperation agreement with Russia amid talk of a “no limits” partnership, doesn’t lend Moscow support in the Ukraine war.

China has cast itself as neutral on the war, but Chinese diplomats have repeatedly said Russia’s concerns over the expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization are legitimate and said that Western powers, the U.S. in particular, are to blame for pushing Moscow into a corner.

The meeting in Bali was the latest in a recent resumption of dialogue between top U.S. and Chinese officials.


stefani reynolds/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

“I don’t think that China is in fact engaging in a way that suggests neutrality,” Mr. Blinken said, telling reporters that he relayed that concern to Mr. Wang.

Mr. Blinken declined to characterize Mr. Wang’s response to the Russia complaints. Mr. Wang didn’t schedule his own press conference, and he didn’t respond to reporters’ questions about whether China backs Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

U.S. officials have sought both to push China to abandon support for Russia and to criticize Beijing publicly over its support for Moscow, a way of putting pressure on both governments.

Mr. Wang said before meeting with Mr. Blinken that it is “important to stay committed to the principles put forward by President

Xi Jinping

—mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation—because that serves the interests of the two countries, two peoples,”

The tough tone from Mr. Blinken and relatively cool greetings exchanged by the Chinese and American envoys came a day after Western diplomats sharply criticized Russia for contributing to higher food and energy prices, seeking to isolate Moscow in Bali.

Besides the Russia issue, Mr. Blinken said he sought cooperation on some areas, including efforts to curb climate change. Yet he also said he brought up key issues that divide the countries: China’s attitude toward Taiwan, a self-ruled island that Beijing claims is part of China, as well as the Communist Party’s governance of Hong Kong, Tibet and the northwestern region of Xinjiang.

“We’re committed to managing this relationship, this competition, responsibly—as the world expects us to—leading with diplomacy,” he said.

Overall, U.S. officials are eager to manage a relationship with China that they describe as highly competitive, with some room for cooperation in select areas and likely confrontation in others. Beijing has accused Washington of trying to recruit other countries in the region to help undermine China’s rise, which it decries as a revival of Cold War-style containment.

The Blinken-Wang meeting is at least the fifth exchange among senior U.S. and Chinese officials since early June after a lull of many months in which relations already at their lowest point in decades drifted further. Both governments are looking for ways to stabilize, if not improve ties, according to current and former officials.

“There is no substitute for face-to-face—or sometimes mask-to-mask—diplomacy,” Mr. Blinken said before the meeting.

President Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping are expected to talk by phone in the coming days, some of the officials said, in their first conversation since March. Mr. Biden is looking at removing some of the Trump-era tariffs on Chinese imports, a move that is likely to be seen positively in Beijing.

Mr. Biden can ill afford a new crisis, some of the current and former officials said, as his poll numbers sag and he deals with inflation on the home front and tries to keep allies united in supporting Ukraine against Russia. Meanwhile, Mr. Xi is seeking a third five-year term as Communist Party chief in a break with recent precedent and faces a sagging economy and public grumbling over coronavirus lockdowns.

Members of NATO late last month released a new guiding document for the military alliance, singling out China for the first time and calling it a challenge to European and Atlantic security. This past week, the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation,

Christopher Wray,

and Ken McCallum, director-general of Britain’s domestic security service, MI5, made a rare joint appeal to businesses about the threat from Chinese espionage to proprietary information.


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Beijing responded to the comments by Messrs. Wray and McCallum, saying they exposed an “entrenched Cold War zero-sum mentality and ideological prejudice.”

In the clutch of high-level meetings that resumed in early June, top U.S. and Chinese officials have discussed global security, military, trade and economic issues. For Treasury Secretary

Janet Yellen,

her recent call with her Chinese counterpart was the first publicly reported exchange since October. For the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army Gen.

Mark Milley,

it was the first in 18 months.

National security adviser Jake Sullivan has had more regular meetings with his Chinese counterpart, Yang Jiechi.

Write to William Mauldin at [email protected] and Charles Hutzler at [email protected]

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