Officials React to Warning of “Consequences” if China Arms Russia

February 26, 2023

The weekend after noting one year since Russia invaded Ukraine, the focus of U.S. officials had turned to China—and assertions from the White House that Beijing is “considering providing lethal support to Russia in the war against Ukraine.”

Those assertions were made a week ago by Secretary of State Antony Blinken. In an interview with ABC News that first aired Friday and parts of which were replayed Sunday on This Week, President Biden said that the U.S. “would respond” if China were to supply Russia with Lethal weapons in its war with Ukraine.

When pressed by anchor David Muir as to whether there would be “serious consequences,” Biden said, “I’ll let you characterize what they would be. We would respond.”

He further detailed a conversation he’d had with Chinese President Xi Jinping over the summer, warning him about the economic impact of aiding China—reminding Xi that some 600 American corporations have divested from Russia as a result of its February 24, 2022 invasion of its sovereign neighbor. 

According to Yale’s School of Management, more than 1,000 companies worldwide have curtailed operations in Russia due to the war.

This Sunday, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan made the talk show rounds to elaborate upon the President’s remarks. He said on ABC’s This Week, “[W]e are sending a clear message, as are our European allies, that this would be a real mistake because those weapons would be used to bombard cities and kill civilians, and China should want no part of that.”

On CNN’s State of the Union, Sullivan further said, as yet “China has not moved forward as far as we can discern. We have not seen them do it.”

He added that during Blinken’s meeting with his Chinese counterpart, State Councillor Wang Yi, at the Munich Security Conference in Germany on February 18, the pair discussed this very subject.

“Secretary Blinken laid out the U.S. position in perspective, and I’m going to leave that important and grave set of conversations around the stakes of China coming in behind Russia in their war in Ukraine for behind closed doors,” said Sullivan.

The President had told ABC News, “We haven’t seen it yet, but I don’t anticipate a major initiative on the part of China providing weaponry to Russia.”

However, House Foreign Affairs Chair Michael McCaul (R-TX) did specify on ABC’s This Week, “[W]e have intelligence that’s been reported that [the Chinese] are contemplating sending 100 drones into Russia” and “other lethal weapons.”

“I think, you know, the Chinese weigh very carefully this issue,” CIA Director William Burns, meanwhile, said CBS’ Face the Nation, “And we’ve certainly made very clear the seriousness of the consequences for our relationship—and, I think, for China’s relationship with our European allies as well.”

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Member Ben Cardin (R-MD) said on Fox News Sunday that he was “with the 68%” of registered voters in a new Fox News poll that said they view China as a “major threat” to the U.S.

“Look, they’re encouraging this war by working with Russia,” said Cardin. He added, “This is an attack on the sovereignty of a democratic state. There’s no question that Ukraine is the front line, but Russia will not stop there, and China’s assisting that.”

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