“They claim neutrality, they claim to hold out on principle, but all they say about the causes is anti-US, blaming NATO and taking the Russian line,” said Evan Medeiros, a professor at Georgetown University who is a senior. Asia director was at the White House. National Security Council in the Obama administration. “The question is: how sustainable is that attitude? How much damage will it do to their ties to the US and their ties to Europe?”
The Biden administration’s diplomatic contact with China to try to avert a war began after President Biden and Mr Xi held a video summit on Nov. 15. In the conversation, the two leaders acknowledged problems in the relationship between their nations, which have been going down for decades, but agreed to try to work together on issues of common concern, including health security, climate change and nuclear proliferation. White House officials said at the time.
Understand the Russian attack on Ukraine
What is the basis of this invasion? Russia considers Ukraine to be within its natural sphere of influence, and it has become nervous about Ukraine’s proximity to the West and the prospect of the country becoming a member of NATO or the European Union. Although Ukraine is part of neither, it receives financial and military aid from the United States and Europe.
After the meeting, US officials decided that the most immediate problem China and the United States could try to defuse together was the Russian troop build-up around Ukraine. Some officials thought the outcome of the video summit indicated there was potential for improvement in US-China relations. Others were more skeptical, but felt it was important to leave no stone unturned in their efforts to prevent Russia from attacking, an official said.
Days later, White House officials met the ambassador, Qin Gang, at the Chinese embassy. They told the ambassador what American intelligence had discovered: a gradual encirclement of Ukraine by Russian forces, including armored units. William J. Burns, the CIA director, had flown to Moscow on November 2 to confront the Russians with the same information, and on November 17, US intelligence officials shared their findings with NATO.
At the Chinese embassy, Russia’s aggression was the first topic in a discussion that lasted more than an hour and a half. In addition to providing intelligence, White House officials told the ambassador that in the event of an invasion, the United States would impose severe sanctions on Russian companies, officials and businessmen, far beyond the sanctions imposed by the Obama administration. announced after Russia took over the Ukrainian government. Crimean peninsula in 2014.
The US officials said the sanctions would also hurt China over time because of its commercial ties.
They also pointed out that they knew how China had helped Russia evade some of the 2014 sanctions, and warned Beijing of such future aid. And they argued that because China was widely seen as a partner of Russia, its global image could suffer if Mr Putin invaded.