China on Wednesday hit back at US criticism of Beijing’s efforts to push for peace talks to end the fighting in Ukraine as Chinese President Xi Jinping concluded his three-day visit to Moscow.
National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters on Tuesday that China was not “impartial” due to its relationship with Russia, comments that drew a rebuke from the Chinese Foreign Ministry.
“The US says China’s position cannot be seen as impartial. Does that mean pouring weapons into the conflict should be seen as impartial? Does that mean causing the crisis to escalate should be seen as impartial?” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said.
Wang described Xi’s trip to Moscow as a “journey of friendship, cooperation and peace” and called on the US to stop stoking the conflict in Ukraine. “We call on the US to reflect on its own role in the Ukraine issue, stop fueling the flames, and stop deflecting the blame on China. We will continue to stand firm on the side of peace and dialogue,” he said.
The US has come out strongly against any Chinese efforts to foster negotiations between Russia and Ukraine. Before Xi’s trip, Kirby said the US was against calls for a ceasefire, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Monday that the world “should not be fooled” by Beijing’s initiative.
Xi is expected to soon speak with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for the first time since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022. Zelensky has expressed an openness to a 12-point peace plan Beijing released and wants to talk with Xi, although other top Ukrainian officials have ruled out the idea of negotiating with Putin.
Besides discussing Ukraine, Xi and Putin also vowed to strengthen trade and other aspects of their partnership, including increasing transactions using the yuan, efforts the two nations see as vital to creating a more multipolar world. When departing the Kremlin, Xi told Putin: “Right now there are changes – the likes of which we haven’t seen for 100 years – and we are the ones driving these changes together.”