The Chinese state media report did not provide further details of Monday’s meeting, including the exact timing, what was discussed and whether the meeting ended.
China has denied that Russia asked it for military equipment or other aid to support its war in Ukraine. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Monday also denied allegations that Russia had requested military assistance in Ukraine from China.
Referring to reports that Russia has requested military assistance from China, Richard N. Haas, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, said such a choice would be a “decisive moment” for China and the 21st century.
“Doing so (providing support) means China will open itself up to massive sanctions and make itself a pariah; refusal will keep open the possibility of at least selective cooperation with the United States and the West,” Haas said in a tweet.
Russia has also asked China for economic support, according to a US official familiar with the matter. The official, who declined to reveal the Chinese reaction, said that this request and the request for military support came after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but indicated that Beijing had responded.
Sullivan told Dana Bash on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday that the United States was “watching closely” to see if China was providing any support to Russia.
“It is a matter of concern to us. We have told Beijing that we will not stand idly by and allow any country to compensate Russia for its losses from economic sanctions,” Sullivan said.
The potential economic risks associated with Russia’s support are unlikely to be lost on Chinese leader Xi Jinping, who is widely expected to secure a historic third term in power during the Communist Party’s 20th National Congress in Beijing this fall.
A group of prominent Chinese specialists in the United States on Friday called on Washington to keep the door open for diplomacy with China and “convince Beijing that its long-term interests will not be best served by associating itself with a pariah” like pariah Russia. Most of the Western world hates it.
“Using diplomatic engagement with Beijing… the United States will be able to lay the groundwork for more effective pressure against China if Xi more openly supports [Russian President Vladimir] “Putin’s Brutal Aggression,” wrote the group convened by the Asia Society Center on US-China Relations and the China 21st Century Center at the University of California, San Diego.
When asked whether Russia has asked China for military assistance, Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian on Monday described the allegations as “disinformation” spread by the United States against China with “evil intent.”
“China’s position on the Ukraine issue is consistent and clear, and we are playing a constructive role in promoting peace talks. It is necessary for all parties to exercise restraint and de-escalate tension, rather than pour oil on fire; it is important to push for a diplomatic solution rather than escalate the situation,” Zhao said. At a regular press conference.
Both sides view Monday’s meeting between Yang and Sullivan as furthering the move toward better communication that Xi and US President Joe Biden put forward at their summit late last year.
US National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne said in a statement Sunday that the two sides will discuss “ongoing efforts to manage competition between our two countries,” as well as “the impact of Russia’s war against Ukraine on regional and global security.”
Zhao, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, did not mention Russia or Ukraine in a statement about the meeting posted online on Sunday, but noted that the two sides “will exchange views on Sino-US relations and international and regional issues of common concern.”
The “main issue” of the meeting will be to implement the “important consensus” that Xi and Biden reached at their virtual summit, Zhao said, adding that the two sides have been coordinating the meeting since late last year.
Sullivan and Yang, director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, last met in Zurich in October for a meeting preceding the video summit between Xi and Biden.
But about four months later, the Russian invasion of Ukraine has become a central international issue, strengthening coordination and solidarity between the United States and its allies and also casting into the spotlight the divergent approach from China.
China has sought to portray itself as a neutral party, often stressing that the “legitimate security concerns of all countries” must be addressed, but its decision not to keep pace with the range of sanctions imposed by the United States and its allies against Russia, has inflated it. Misinformation about Russia, you risk putting it in further disagreement with the West.
This story has been updated with additional developments.
CNN’s Sam Fossum, Kaitlan Collins, Jim Sioto and Kylie Atwood contributed to this report.
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