Top White House officials spoke out this weekend amid concerns that China may be preparing to give weapons to Russia to aid in its nearly year-long war in Ukraine.
“China has been engaged in providing rhetorical, political, diplomatic support to Russia,” Blinken said on ABC’s This Week in an interview that was recorded on Saturday. “But we have information that gives us concern that they are considering providing lethal support to Russia in the war against Ukraine.”
Blinken’s pre-recorded remarks on several of the networks’ Sunday shows came soon after he had engaged in a three-hour sit-down with his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi—the first face-to-face meeting between any U.S. and Chinese officials since the Pentagon’s downing of a Chinese surveillance balloon in U.S. waters off the South Carolina coast.
The two top diplomats met at the Munich Security Conference in Germany on Saturday, an annual event that this year hosted officials from 35 different countries.
“It was important for me to share very clearly with Wang Yi that [giving support to Russia] would be a serious problem,” Blinken said on ABC.
He further said on CBS’ Face the Nation, “The focus of the conversation of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, and concerns that we have that China’s considering providing lethal support to Russia, in its efforts in Ukraine. And I was able to share with him, as President Biden had shared with President Xi, the serious consequences that would have for our relationship.”
Blinken’s words echoed those of Vice President Harris during her speech in Munich. “We are also troubled that Beijing has deepened its relationship with Moscow since the war began,” she said. “Looking ahead, any steps by China to provide lethal support to Russia would only reward aggression, continue the killing, and further undermine a rules-based order.”
In his recorded interviews Blinken also addressed the tensions amid the Chinese spy balloon incident. He told NBC’s Meet the Press that there was “no apology” from Wang for the spy balloon. “But what I can also tell you is this was an opportunity to speak very clearly and very directly about the fact that China sent a surveillance balloon over our territory, violating our sovereignty, violating international law,” he said.
The initial revelation of the Chinese balloon had compelled Blinken to postpone indefinitely a diplomatic visit to China that had been scheduled for the weekend of February 4-5. And on February 7, China refused to take a call from Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, which had been meant to ratchet down the tensions. China had stated that the U.S. had not created “the proper atmosphere for dialogue” at this time.
Wang in Munich this weekend repeated China’s position on the balloon incident, saying the U.S. military’s downing violated international conventions. He told the U.S. to “change course” and fix the damage done to the bilateral relationship by its “abuse of force.”
On Thursday, President Biden tasked Blinken with leading an effort to establish global norms with respect to unidentified aerial objects.
Biden called for the effort after ordering the military to shoot down three additional, unidentified objects following the initial Chinese spy balloon. The President on Thursday revealed that U.S. officials now believe those additional objects were likely airborne devices designed for commercial or research purposes.