China’s foreign minister is targeting Washington as tensions with Russia escalate over Ukraine.
China has thrown its political weight behind Russia as fears that it might invade Ukraine escalate, pointing in a call to US officials to Moscow’s “legal security issues”.
In a conversation with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Russia’s concerns about security over the growing tensions in Europe over Ukraine must be “taken seriously”.
“All parties must abandon the Cold War mentality altogether and form a balanced, effective and sustainable European security mechanism through negotiation,” China’s top diplomat said on Thursday, according to a statement from the Foreign Ministry.
In a nod to Moscow’s concerns about the expansion of the NATO alliance in Europe, Wang added that “regional security cannot be guaranteed by strengthening or even expanding military blocs”.
He also said China was opposed to “external interference” in the way other countries were governed.
Tens of thousands of Russian troops were stationed at the border with Ukraine in recent weeks.
In response, the US and other NATO member states have in recent days conducted intense diplomacy with Russian President Vladimir Putin, as well as providing military reinforcements to Ukraine.
According to the State Department’s reading of the call, “Secretary Blinken underlined the global security and economic risks posed by further Russian aggression against Ukraine and conveyed that de-escalation and diplomacy are the responsible way forward”.
The US and its NATO allies have said they are ready for any occasion.
Russia has fueled a rebellion in the eastern part of the former Soviet republic that has killed more than 13,000 people since 2014.
That year, it annexed Crimea after the overthrow of a government in Kiev that opposed attempts to move closer to Europe.
Moscow has denied plans to invade Ukraine, but wants guarantees that it will not join NATO.
Wang also warned the U.S. to “stop interfering” in the Winter Olympics, which Beijing hopes to turn into a soft-power triumph.
“The most urgent priority at the moment is for the US to stop interfering in the Beijing Winter Olympics,” the foreign minister said.
The run-up to next week’s Games has been clouded by a US diplomatic boycott of China’s human rights record, especially against its Uighur Muslim minority in the Xinjiang region.
Wang added that Washington should also “stop playing with fire” on the issue of Taiwanan island that China claims as its own territory.