China has “very clearly” taken Russia’s side in the war against Ukraine, US State Department spokesman Ned Price said on Monday, calling into question Beijing’s recent efforts to play the neutral peacemaker in the conflict.
“Despite [China’s] protests to the contrary, we have very clearly seen it take a side in this war,” Price said.
He added: “[China] has attempted to maintain this veneer of neutrality. [It] has told the world that essentially… it is not taking a position, but rather it has tried to portray itself as an honest broker. In word and in deed, however, [China] has been anything but an honest broker.”
China said last week it will take on an “impartial but constructive” mediator role in the Ukraine war. Yet, it also maintained a “no limits friendship” with Russia.
Beijing issued a 12-point proposal which calls for a ceasefire and peace talks, as well as lifting all “unilateral” sanctions on Moscow.
Price argued that China was anything but neutral, pointing to the fact that it has already provided important forms of assistance to Russia, including in the context of the war against Ukraine.
“[China] has provided Russia with diplomatic support, political support, economic support, [and] rhetorical support, including by parroting Russia’s dangerous propaganda, lies and disinformation on the world stage,” he said.
Unlike the threadbare line of communication Washington and Moscow maintain, Price said China and Russia have deepened their relationship. “If China was serious about seeking to bring an end to this war, it would have influence and leverage over the government in Moscow, that we would hope it would use in a constructive way.”
Price highlighted last week’s visit of Beijing’s top diplomat Wang Yi to the Russian capital and the Chinese official’s meeting with President Vladimir Putin, as a clear example of how close the ties are between Beijing and Moscow. On the other hand, China “has not engaged symmetrically with Ukraine.” This, Price said, called into question whether the Chinese proposal was truly a “serious” effort towards a peaceful resolution of the conflict.