China’s Foreign Ministry said Friday it would not sell weapons to either side in the nearly 14-month-old Ukrainian-Russian War.
“Regarding the export of military items, China adopts a prudent and responsible attitude,” Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang said at a news conference alongside visiting German counterpart Annalena Baerbock. “China will not provide weapons to relevant parties of the conflict, and manage and control the exports of dual-use items in accordance with laws and regulations.”
The statement counters U.S. intelligence revealed in recently leaked classified Pentagon documents. According to a top-secret U.S. intel summary dated February 23, China approved the provision of lethal aid to Russia for its war in Ukraine but wanted any shipments to remain a secret.
China officially took a neutral stance on the war in February of 2022 ahead of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. However, China and Russia struck a “no limits” partnership while Russian President Vladimir Putin was visiting Beijing for the opening of the 2022 Winter Olympics.
The latest assertions from China come after Qin’s U.S. counterpart, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, said this past February, “We have information that gives us concern that [the Chinese] are considering providing lethal support to Russia.”
Soon after, President Biden said that the U.S. “would respond” if China were to supply Russia with lethal weapons in its war with Ukraine—though he added that “we haven’t seen it yet, but I don’t anticipate a major initiative on the part of China providing weaponry to Russia.”
During the Chinese and German Foreign Ministers’ joint news conference, Qin also reiterated China’s willingness to help find a peaceful resolution to the conflict.
During a visit to Russia in March, Chinese President Xi Jinping posted an article in China’s largest state newspaper promoting a peace plan for Ukraine, saying it “reflects the broadest common understanding of the international community on the crisis.” It was quickly dismissed by Western officials as vaguely-worded and one-sided in Russia’s favor.