While there has been no evidence that Beijing has given Moscow weapons for its invasion of Ukraine, President Joe Biden claimed he cautioned Chinese President Xi Jinping that doing so would be a “gigantic mistake.”
Xi and Biden spoke after the Chinese president met with Vladimir Putin at the Olympics in February, according to excerpts from an interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes” that will appear on Sunday. Days after the Games’ concluding ceremony, Russia invaded. While there has been no evidence that Beijing has given Moscow weapons for its invasion of Ukraine, President Joe Biden claimed he cautioned Chinese President Xi Jinping that doing so would be a “gigantic mistake.”
“Not long after that, I called President Xi — not to threaten at all, just to say to him, ‘we’ve met many times.’ And I said, ‘if you think that Americans and others are going to continue to invest in China based on your violating the sanctions that have been imposed on Russia, I think you’re making a gigantic mistake, but that’s your decision to make,’” Biden said.
He didn’t mention the date of the call, but the assertion is consistent with a US readout of a conversation between the two leaders in March, during which, according to the US, Biden “described the implications and consequences if China provides material support to Russia as it conducts brutal attacks against Ukrainian cities and civilians.”
Biden told CBS there’s so far no sign of material support for Russia by China. “Thus far, there’s no indication they’ve put forward weapons or other things that Russia has wanted,” he said, declining to elaborate.
Economic ties between the two nations are already strained, even in the absence of any indication that China is breaking sanctions. In order to reduce its reliance on Asia, the White House has taken steps to protect domestic supply chains, especially in the semiconductor industry, and has tightened monitoring of foreign investments in the US. Additionally, Biden is still considering whether to reduce the tariffs that his predecessor, Donald Trump, slapped on Chinese imports.
Asked whether the relationship between China and Russia could put the US in a “new, more complicated Cold War,” Biden replied: “I don’t think it is a new, more complicated cold war.”
Xi and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed concern last week about Putin’s invasion, as a Ukrainian counteroffensive pushes Russian forces back in parts of the country. Putin told Xi he understands China’s “questions and concerns,” while Modi told Putin that “today’s era is not one for war.”