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President Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Sunday that China will “absolutely” face consequences if it economically supports Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
During an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Sullivan sidestepped a question by anchor Dana Bash about whether he considered Chinese President Xi Jinping a “co-conspirator” in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine, but ultimately said the relationship between the two authoritarian countries was a “concern.”
CHINA WARNS OF ‘WORST CONSEQUENCES’ FOR ANY COUNTRY THAT SUPPORTS TAIWAN MILITARY
“We believe that China, in fact, was aware before the invasion took place that Vladimir Putin was planning something,” Sullivan responded. “They may not have known the full extent of it, because it’s very possible that Putin lied to them in the same way he lied to Europeans and others. We also are watching closely to see the extent to which China actually does provide any form of support, material support or economic support to Russia.”
“It is a concern of ours,” he continued, “and we have communicated to Beijing that we will not stand by and allow any country to compensate Russia for its losses from the economic sanctions.”
Sullivan would not say whether the U.S. would sanction China if it were found to have aided the Russian invasion.
“I’m not going to sit here publicly and brandish threats,” he said, “but what I will tell you is that we are communicating directly, privately to Beijing that there will absolutely be consequences for large scale sanctions evasion efforts or support to Russia to backfill them. We will not allow that to go forward and allow there to be a lifeline to Russia from these economic sanctions from any country anywhere in the world.”
Unlike the U.S. and Europe, China has declined to sanction Russia for its invasion of Ukraine and declared last week that Russia remains its “most important strategic partner.”
A Western intelligence report earlier this month showed that Chinese officials had at least some knowledge of Russia’s plan to invade Ukraine. The report detailed that Chinese officials called on Russia to put off the invasion of Ukraine until after the Olympics in Beijing. China has denied the report as “speculation.”
The Olympics concluded on Feb. 20 and Russian troops invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24. One day after the invasion, China lifted its restrictions on Russian wheat imports to help ease the impact of the sanctions.
Republican Rep. Young Kim of California and Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin of Michigan last week introduced a bipartisan bill, called the DICTATOR Act, that would require a State Department investigation into the extent to which the Chinese government has supported Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
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“While the United States, NATO allies and other nations have taken steps to hold Vladimir Putin accountable for his unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and to provide support to the Ukrainian people as they defend their freedoms, silence and deference from the People’s Republic of China toward the Russian Federation cannot be ignored,” Rep. Kim said in a statement announcing the bill.
Meanwhile, China’s government on Saturday reportedly warned that any country supporting Taiwan’s militarily would face the “worst consequences,” and that “no one and no force” would be able to stop the Communist Party if it took action against the island country.