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US hypes concerns over ‘China’s support for Russia’ to ‘muddy waters, shift attention’

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BEIJING: Ahead of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s reported visit to China next week, the US has ramped up efforts hyping up “concerns” that Beijing is “helping Moscow build up its defense industrial base” in a desperate attempt to find excuses for itself when future support for Ukraine is going down the drain, experts said on Thursday. 

They noted that the US’ attempts to sow discord are “meaningless” because China will cherish its highly complementary relationship with Russia.

Blinken will leave for China on April 23 for a four-day trip, Politico reported on Wednesday, citing a Washington-based diplomat and three US officials.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lin Jian on Thursday welcomed Blinken’s upcoming arrival at Thursday’s media briefing, but provided no further details. 

Ahead of the visit, State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller told reporters that the US is “incredibly concerned” about the “material transfers” from China to Russia in the past months, which Russia has used to rebuild its industrial base and produce arms that are showing up on the battlefield in Ukraine, Reuters reported. 

Washington even warned that it is prepared to “take further steps as necessary” if Beijing helps prop up Moscow’s military capability, State Department principal deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel said on Wednesday. Meanwhile, US lawmakers introduced a bipartisan bill called the No Limits Act, which would impose sanctions on Chinese firms that provide material support to Russia.

“The Biden administration is facing a dilemma on the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Withdrawal of support for Ukraine now means betraying its own commitments and allies, and if the next administration, possibly Trump’s, withdraws, the Democratic Party will bear a bad reputation for being capable of instigating war but not being able to offer protection,” Lü Xiang, a research fellow of US studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Thursday.

As a result, they are trying to muddy the waters to extricate themselves by blaming the US’ failure on China’s “support” for Russia, Lü said, adding that the US’ tactic is to amplify the argument that products China sold for civilian use can be used for military purposes.

China’s strategic partnership with Russia, featuring non-alliance, non-confrontation and not targeting any third party, is the same as that with other major countries including Germany and France, Lü added.

China is expected to clear a few things up during Blinken’s visit, observers believe. 

China is not a party to the conflict, said the expert, pointing out that as long as the US refrains from adding fuel to the fire, China can facilitate dialogue and reconciliation between the conflicting parties. It is hoped that the US can abandon the idea of completely defeating Russia in all aspects as Russia’s existence is a fundamental aspect of the balance of power in a multipolar world. “It’s probably more important for the US to never expect China to become a party to containing Russia,” Lü said. 

“Washington’s efforts to sow discord between Beijing and Moscow will undoubtedly turn out to be futile, because the two value their relations as well as the vast cooperation potential empowered by their highly complementary economies,” Lü said.

Analysts believe the purpose of Blinken’s visit may also be to seek Chinese involvement in settling potential conflict overspill in the Middle East. 

China’s special representative on Eurasian affairs Li Hui met with Ukrainian Ambassador to China Pavlo Riabikin on Wednesday. The two sides exchanged views on the Ukraine crisis as well as bilateral relations and other issues of common concern.