On Thursday, a senior American official warned China of sanctions if it offers “material support” for Russia’s war in Ukraine while pledging to help India end its dependence on Russian weapons, even as comparable American weaponry costs much higher to importers. US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said at an event in Brussels that China was not helping the situation in Ukraine by doing things like amplifying Russian disinformation campaigns.
Sherman said she hoped Beijing would learn the “right lessons” from Russia’s war, including that it can’t separate the US from its allies.
“They have seen what we have done in terms of sanctions, export controls, designations, vis-a-vis Russia, so it should give them some idea of the menu from which we could choose if indeed China were to provide material support,” Sherman told a crowd at the event.
A group called Friends of Europe, co-funded by the European Union, was the host of the event.
The American official said the US would work with India to help the country move away from its traditional reliance on Russian weapons, given the impact global sanctions are having on Russia’s arms industry.
“They understand that their military, which was built on Russian weapons, probably doesn’t have a future with Russian weapons anymore because our sanctions have pulled back the military-industrial complex of Russia — and it’s not coming back anytime soon,” she said.
China said this week that it planned to continue strengthening strategic ties with Russia, showing that the relationship remains solid despite growing concerns over war crimes committed by Putin’s military.
Chinese companies have, however, been complying with US sanctions even though the government opposes them on grounds of sovereignty. But the American stand lacks credibility because China happens to be one of the largest investment destinations of the US. A great deal of what China is today economically can be credited to American FDI and outsourcing and no country clashes with its own investment.
India has largely taken the same view as China on the war, supporting calls for a cease-fire and diplomatic solution while abstaining at the United Nations on votes for draft resolutions condemning Russia. The government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who spoke with President Joe Biden earlier this month, has told the US it needs Russian weapons to secure its border with China and the alternatives are too expensive.
While India told the US also the fact that Russian crude oil is cheaper and New Delhi would not go for more expensive options, Sherman did not deal with the issue of fuel. The US has not demanded of its European allies either that they stop importing Russian gas and oil.
Meanwhile, a senior diplomat for the Czech Republic, which will assume the EU’s rotating presidency later this year, warned Beijing that its cooperation with Moscow risked undercutting ties with Brussels. Czech Deputy Foreign Minister Martin Tlapa met with a delegation led by China’s special representative to Central and Eastern Europe, Huo Yuzhen, in Prague to debate the so-called 16-plus-1 format that Beijing has used to foster closer ties in the former Eastern Bloc.
“We used the meeting to express again our reservations to current Chinese cooperation with Russia,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Lenka Do wrote in an emailed statement. The Czechs have already warned that “any kind of Chinese support of Russia will hurt its relations with the EU,” she wrote.