China defends trade with Russia after the US says equipment used in Ukraine might have been exported
BEIJING (AP) — The Chinese government defended its dealings with Russia as “normal economic and trade cooperation” Friday after a United States intelligence report said Beijing possibly provided equipment used in Ukraine that might have military applications.
The Biden administration has warned Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s government of unspecified consequences if it supports the Kremlin’s war effort. The latest report cited Russian customs data that showed Chinese state-owned military contractors supplied navigation equipment, fighter jet parts, drones and other goods, but didn’t say whether that might trigger U.S. retaliation.
“China has been carrying out normal economic and trade cooperation with countries around the world, including Russia,” said Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning. She said Chinese-Russian cooperation “neither targets a third party nor is it subject to interference and coercion by a third party.”
Xi and Russian President Vladimir Putin declared before the February 2022 invasion that their governments had a “no-limits” friendship. Beijing says it is neutral in the war, but it has blocked efforts to censure Moscow in the United Nations and has repeated Russian justifications for the attack.
China is an “increasingly important buttress” for Russia, “probably supplying Moscow with key technology and dual-use equipment used in Ukraine,” said the report by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, referring to equipment that can have both civilian and military applications.
China has stepped up purchases of Russian oil and gas, which helps Putin’s government offset lost sales after the United States, Europe and Japan cut off most purchases of Russian energy. Beijing can do that without triggering Western sanctions on its own companies, but Washington and its allies are frustrated that it undercuts economic pressure on Moscow.
China rejects Western trade and financial sanctions on Russia because they weren’t authorized by the U.N. Security Council, where Beijing and Moscow have veto power. However, China has appeared to avoid directly defying those sanctions.
“We have also consistently opposed unilateral sanctions and long-arm jurisdiction that have no basis in international law and have not been authorized by the Security Council,” said Mao.