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Blinken to warn China about its support for the Russian military during this period

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L) and Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang shake hands ahead of a meeting at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing on June 18, 2023.

Leah Millis | AFP | Getty Images

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will warn China about its support for the Russian military during his visit to the country this week, a senior State Department official said.

Blinken is expected to convey Washington’s “deep concerns” about Chinese aid to Russia’s defense industrial base during his three-day visit starting Wednesday.

“We are prepared to take action as we deem necessary against companies that … seriously undermine security in both Ukraine and Europe,” the official told reporters ahead of Blinken’s trip.

“And I think we’ve shown our willingness to do that with companies from a number of countries, not just China,” he added. “Either way, I think this will be a major discussion point while we’re in Beijing.”

US allies in Europe are concerned about the consequences of Beijing’s support for Russia’s war in Ukraine and “what this means for European security in particular, and then of course it will be up to China to determine the next steps,” the official said. .

This will be Blinken’s second trip to China after a high-stakes diplomatic mission to cool tensions between the US and China last year.

Blinken is expected to meet senior Chinese officials, including Foreign Minister Wang Yi, during his visit to Beijing and Shanghai, according to the State Department. It remains unclear whether the foreign minister will meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

China fuels the threat to European security

When it comes to Russia’s defense industrial base, China is “the most important contributor,” Blinken said last week, after the G7 foreign ministers meeting in Italy.

“We see China sharing machine tools, semiconductors and other dual-use items that have helped Russia rebuild the defense industrial base that sanctions and export controls had damaged so much,” he said.

“If on the one hand China claims to want good relations with Europe and other countries, on the other hand it cannot pose the greatest threat to European security since the end of the Cold War. “

How Chinese companies support the Russian military

According to a CNBC analysis, Chinese companies are playing an increasingly important role in propping up Russia’s struggling economy and strengthening its military capabilities, including through the trade of battlefield goods in Ukraine.

Data last year appeared to indicate Beijing was supplying militarily useful equipment such as drones, helmets, vests and radios, extending a lifeline to President Vladimir Putin’s war against Ukraine.

Blinken will also discuss “a range of bilateral, regional and global issues” such as the Middle East crisis and Chinese provocations in the South China Sea, the senior official said.

Beijing claims almost the entire South China Sea as its own and is embroiled in territorial disputes with Southeast Asian countries such as the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam, among others. It has previously warned Washington not to interfere with China’s territorial and maritime rights.

On the trade front, the two countries continue to battle for technological supremacy and just last week China denounced US scrutiny of its maritime, logistics and shipbuilding industries, calling the move a “mistake on top of a mistake.”

The senior US official pointed out that Washington is realistic about its expectations of Blinken’s visit in resolving key issues.

“I want to make it clear that we are realistic and clear about the prospects for breakthroughs on each of these issues,” he said.

“But we will continue to use diplomacy to communicate our positions and policies, clarify misconceptions and underscore that we will continue to take action to protect our national security and economy.”

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