HomeUS News updateWhite House seeks softer tone on China ahead of Putin-Xi meeting

White House seeks softer tone on China ahead of Putin-Xi meeting

The White House has sought in recent weeks to tone down its rhetoric about China possibly providing lethal aid to Russia for use in Ukraine, particularly following Chinese President Xi Jinping’s standoff with Russian President Vladimir Putin. An effort aimed at reducing the rising tension ahead of the upcoming meeting. Four current administration officials and three former officials.

Officials said one of the concerns driving the soft tone is that sharper rhetoric toward China at this point could push Xi into a corner where he feels compelled to send lethal aid to Russia. ,

“We don’t want to corner China,” said an administration official.

A month after first publicly disclosing that US intelligence showed China was considering sending arms to Russia, the White House says the US has seen no indication that China has decided to do so Is. But there is also no indication that Xi has taken the idea off the table, according to the White House.

A meeting between Putin and Xi in Moscow next Thursday has raised concerns in the Biden administration that it could result in China taking a step toward helping Russia, if not by sending specific weapons. Much needed parts are being supplied for its repair. military industrial base, according to officials.

Russia is mining household goods such as breast pumps and washing machines for the microchips it needs for tanks and precision-guided weapons.

Administration officials are deeply concerned that China could provide Russia with aid like the chips they are discussing, according to officials, to see what kind of sanctions the US could impose on China in response. Officials said there are several options under discussion on how to structure such sanctions, noting that the stricter they are, the more likely they are to adversely affect the US economy.

A White House strategy to tone down rhetoric about China’s view on arms for Russia has included a decision by senior officials – after some internal debate – not to publicly disclose intelligence that the US says That he has to back up that claim, the official said. He said the administration may decide to go public and release the intelligence later, but for now is focused more privately on persuading China not to supply Russia with lethal aid. Can go

A former senior administration official said, “There is a feeling that by making this public, Xi is backing himself into a corner, and he will cut off arms supplies so he doesn’t appear weak.”

After initially issuing stern warnings to China against supplying Russia with lethal aid, including threatening to retaliate with economic sanctions, senior administration officials now adopt a more restrained public strategy. That dialed-back approach includes officials who observe that the administration does not believe it is in China’s interest to supply arms and has declined to elaborate on how the US would respond if it did.

Last month, for example, John Kirby, a spokesman for the National Security Council, responded to questions about China potentially supplying arms to Russia, clarifying that “there will be consequences” and that Beijing Requested not to take the step of

Secretary of State Antony Blinken struck a similar tone and vowed a strong US response.

“We will not hesitate, for example, to target Chinese companies or individuals who violate our sanctions or otherwise engage in supporting the Russian war effort,” Blinken said.

Yet when asked recently about a possible reaction to China supplying arms to Russia for Ukraine, Kirby said: “I don’t think it’s helpful to speculate right now what the consequences might be. ”

He added that Blinken “has talked about the fact that there will be impacts” and added: “I think maybe it’s better if we just leave it at that.”

The tone of the growing animosity between the US and China has changed after President Joe Biden attempted to mend fractious relations by meeting with Xi last November.

However, tensions escalated when China flew a spy balloon across the United States early last month, prompting Blinken to cancel his planned visit to Beijing as he was about to depart, and he returned to the White House. ended two weeks later with a public accusation of China is considering offering lethal aid to Russia for use in Ukraine.

Officials said the administration still hopes to improve months of deeply strained relations, which reached a further low last month with China blowing up a spy balloon over the US, and the US then accusing China of sending arms to Russia. was charged with considering.

A second administration official said, “We want to try to find a better basis for this relationship.”

Officials said that if China provides lethal aid to Russia, it is difficult to see how ties can improve anytime soon.

A spokesman for the National Security Council responded to a request for comment by pointing to Kirby’s comments to reporters on Friday, when he reiterated that the administration is concerned that China may be supplying weapons to Russia, but has seen no indication that a decision has been taken.

Kirby had already said before Putin and Xi’s meeting that any proposal from China to end the Ukraine war that emerges from those talks should be met with skepticism, a 12-point plan Beijing has called for. Recently called “one-sided”, in that it benefits. Moscow.

Xi’s meeting with Putin next week comes as Biden’s plan to hold a phone conversation with the Chinese leader has not materialized.

It’s been more than a month since Biden said he hoped to speak with Xi and “get to the bottom” of the spy balloon incident. But National Security Council spokesman Kirby said Friday that no call has been scheduled, and that efforts to set one up are not yet underway but could happen in the coming days.

The call would cap a week-long exchange of sharp public barbs between China and the US

Biden accused China of violating US sovereignty with the spy balloons, and Blinken warned China that the US would impose sanctions on Beijing if Xi sent arms to Russia.

Beijing accused the Biden administration of overreacting to the spy balloon. And Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Mao Ning said the US was spreading “disinformation” by accusing China of considering sending arms to Russia and calling it hypocritical given the Biden administration’s military support for Ukraine.

This week, China said the US was on a “dangerous path” by showcasing a billion-dollar nuclear-powered submarine deal with Australia and the UK in an effort to contain China’s aggression in the Indo-Pacific region.

Even Xi himself made a rare public, direct criticism of the US last week. “The Western countries, led by the United States, have implemented all-round control, encirclement and suppression of China,” he said.

Still, toning down the rhetoric may not have much effect on Xi, said Victor Cha, senior vice president for Asia and Korea at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington, DC-based think tank.

“No matter what the US says, Xi is going to do whatever he wants to do after this meeting next week,” Cha said.



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