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Upping Pressure on European Leaders, U.S. ‘Reports’ That China Is Aiding Russia in Ukraine

Speaking to Reuters, U.S. officials on April 12, claimed that China is helping Russia in the Ukraine war by “filling critical gaps” in Russian defense production. While warnings to this effect have been made since the beginning of the Ukraine war, this is the first time that the U.S. had claimed that China is assisting Russia in its war effort. On her April 3-9 visit to China, Yellen had also made that a focus of her remarks. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is now on an April 14-16 visit to China, and French President Emmanuel Macron will be hosting Chinese President Xi Jinping next month in Paris.

“One of the most important and game-changing steps available to us now to support Ukraine, is to persuade China to stop helping Russia rebuild its military industrial base. It will be difficult for Russia to maintain its military efforts without the P.R.C,” CNN quoted a “senior administration official” as saying on April 12. The U.S. is pointing in particular to microelectronics imports to Russia, which are allegedly used to produce missiles, tanks and aircraft. They are also claiming that China has provided Russia with engines for drones and turbojets for cruise missiles, and has improved Russia’s satellite and other space capabilities for use in Ukraine.

It is unlikely that U.S. countermeasures will have any effect on Chinese policy. As the U.S. consolidates both Japan and the Philippines in an anti-China alliance, it is in China’s interest, in this case, that they “keep their friends closer,” not their enemies.

China has denied the accusations outright. “China is not a manufacturer or party to the conflict in Ukraine. We are playing a constructive role in promoting a political settlement. China does not supply weapons to either side,” said Liu Pengyu, a spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in Washington. “Normal trade between China and Russia should not be interfered with or restricted. We urge the U.S. side to refrain from disrespecting normal relations between China and Russia and stop trying to find a scapegoat.”