14 July, 2024
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China urges NATO to refrain from blame game over Ukraine

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Amid the ongoing Ukraine conflict, China’s Foreign Ministry on Tuesday urged NATO to halt its attempts to blame Beijing for the war. This call was a response to NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg’s assertions that China was exacerbating the crisis by supplying technology to Russia. This exchange highlights the escalating geopolitical tensions and the differing narratives surrounding the conflict between Western powers and China.

Lin Jian, a spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry, addressed the issue during a regular press briefing. He emphasized that China has consistently positioned itself as a neutral entity in the Ukraine conflict, advocating for peace and dialogue. “What NATO should do is self-reflection, not arbitrary smear and attack China,” Lin stated. He reiterated that China is neither a creator nor a participant in the Ukraine crisis and highlighted the international community’s recognition of China’s “objective and impartial position” and its “constructive role.”

Lin’s comments reflect Beijing’s frustration with what it perceives as unfounded accusations from NATO and other Western entities. He called for NATO to focus on contributing to a political settlement of the crisis rather than exacerbating tensions. “We urge the NATO side to stop shifting blame and sowing discord, not fuel the flame and stoke bloc confrontation, but rather do something practical for the political settlement of the Ukraine crisis,” Lin added.

Stoltenberg’s remarks, made during a visit to Washington, represented a significant escalation in the rhetoric from the Western alliance. He accused China of exacerbating the conflict through technological support to Russia, a claim echoed by U.S. officials who allege a major export push from China aimed at rebuilding Russia’s defense capabilities. Stoltenberg argued that China should face consequences for its actions, drawing attention to Beijing’s substantial trade relations with Moscow, which have surged since the onset of the war.

“China presents itself as a neutral party in the Ukraine war, and says it is not sending lethal assistance to either side, unlike the United States and other Western nations,” Stoltenberg noted. However, he contended that China’s support, even if not explicitly military, has been crucial in sustaining Russia’s war effort. “At some point… there should be consequences,” Stoltenberg warned.

China’s relationship with Russia has grown notably closer since the invasion of Ukraine. This strategic partnership, while beneficial for both countries, has drawn criticism from the West. Despite allegations of aiding Moscow’s war effort, Beijing has consistently denied providing lethal assistance. Nonetheless, the economic ties between the two nations have provided Russia with a critical economic lifeline amidst Western sanctions.

Trade between China and Russia has flourished, with Chinese businesses allegedly supplying dual-use materials and weapons components to Russia. These materials, although not directly classified as military equipment, can be utilized for military purposes, thereby supporting Russia’s military operations indirectly. This dual-use technology transfer has raised alarms in Western capitals, prompting calls for stricter scrutiny and potential sanctions.

The G7 foreign ministers recently expressed “strong concern” over the transfer of dual-use materials from Chinese businesses to Russia. This concern underscores the broader apprehension within the international community about the nature of China’s involvement in the conflict. However, Beijing’s official stance remains one of neutrality and advocacy for peace.

China’s absence from a recent summit in Switzerland, organized by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, further highlights the complexities of its position. The summit reaffirmed Kyiv’s demands for Russia to withdraw from Ukrainian territory, a stance that China has not openly supported. Chinese President Xi Jinping has sought to maintain a delicate balance, projecting an image of non-involvement to avoid sanctions and preserve economic ties with the West.

As NATO prepares to celebrate its 75th anniversary with a summit in Washington, the alliance is expected to reaffirm its long-term support for Ukraine. Stoltenberg emphasized the importance of sustained military aid to Ukraine, arguing that such support is crucial for achieving peace. “The more credible our long-term support, the quicker Moscow will realise it cannot wait us out,” Stoltenberg stated. “It may seem like a paradox, but the path to peace is more weapons for Ukraine,” he added.

This assertion reflects a fundamental divergence in the approaches of NATO and China to the Ukraine crisis. While NATO advocates for increased military support to force a resolution, China calls for diplomatic efforts and negotiations. This dichotomy illustrates the broader geopolitical struggle between Western and non-Western powers, each promoting different pathways to peace and stability.

In conclusion, the exchange between NATO and China over the Ukraine crisis highlights the intricate and often contentious nature of international diplomacy. As the conflict drags on, the differing perspectives of key global players will continue to shape the course of events, with significant implications for global security and stability.

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