Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday told his United States counterpart Joe Biden that war is “in no one’s interest”, AFP reported. He made the statement during a video call in which the two leaders discussed the situation in Ukraine.
Xi also told Biden that “state-to-state relations cannot go to the stage of military hostilities”, the agency reported, citing China’s state broadcaster CCTV.
“President Xi pointed out that China does not want to see the situation in Ukraine to come to this,” an official statement by the Chinese foreign ministry read. “China stands for peace and opposes war.”
Xi also said that China and the United States are the world’s two leading economies, and should “shoulder their share of international responsibilities and work for world peace and tranquility”.
Meanwhile, Biden, during the video call, described the consequences Beijing could face if it were to provide material support to Russia in its attack on Ukraine. A White House readout of the call between the two leaders did not mention these possible consequences.
However, a senior administration official who briefed reporters later said that Biden “laid out in a lot of detail the unified response from not only...governments around the world but also private sector, to Russia’s brutal aggression in Ukraine”.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that China “has to make a decision for themselves, about where they want to stand and how they want the history books to look at them and view their actions”, AP reported.
Before the video call, United States Secretary of State Anthony Blinken had said that Biden would make it clear to China that Washington will “impose costs” if Beijing supported Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
In the past few weeks, the US and many other European countries have announced several sanctions on Russia as a move against its attack on Ukraine.
But, Beijing has refused to condemn Moscow for its actions and abstained from voting against it in United Nations forums.
Psaki had said on Thursday that the United States administration was concerned about China’s alignment with Russia and its potential implications and consequences.
“This is an opportunity for President Biden to assess where President Xi stands,” Psaki said.
She added: “There has been, of course, rhetorical support, or the absence of clear rhetoric and denunciation – or the absence of denunciation by China of what Russia is doing. This flies in the face, of course, of everything China stands for, including the basic principles of the UN Charter, including the basic principles of respect for sovereignty of nations.”
However, China described the US, and member nations of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO, and the western media as “very hypocritical”.
“When it comes to civilian casualties and humanitarian situation, I wonder if you [the US] were equally concerned about the people in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Palestine,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian had said. “Do these civilians mean nothing to you?”