Biden Takes Veiled Swipe at China in Criticizing Supporters of Russia’s Invasion

Biden Takes Veiled Swipe at China in Criticizing Supporters of Russia’s Invasion
U.S. President Joe Biden makes a statement from the East Room of the White House about Russia's invasion of Ukraine in Washington, on Feb. 24, 2022. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images)
Frank Fang

U.S. President Joe Biden issued a veiled criticism against China on Thursday when he unveiled new sanctions on Russia, following Moscow’s all-out assault on Ukraine.

“Putin will be a pariah on the international stage. Any nation that countenances Russia’s naked aggression against Ukraine will be stained by association,” Biden told reporters at the White House, without naming China.

Biden’s remarks came after China refused to denounce the Russian attack and rejected Moscow’s move as an invasion. Instead, the Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying reiterated Beijing’s call for “all sides to exercise retrained” and blamed Washington for “hyping up war.”
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine—the biggest attack on a European state since World War II—has left at least 137 dead and 316 wounded in Ukraine as of early Friday local time, according to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

“Putin’s actions betray his sinister vision for the future of our world—one where nations take what they want by force,” Biden said.

When asked if he was “urging China to help isolate Russia,” Biden said: “I’m not prepared to comment on that at the moment.”

One day before Russia’s invasion, U.S. State Department Ned Price, criticized China and Russia for seeking to create a new “profoundly illiberal” world order, with the current Russian aggression against Ukraine being a part of that. Price pointed to their joint statement released earlier this month as evidence.
On Feb. 4, President Vladimir Putin met with Chinese leader Xi Jinping in Beijing. Following their meeting, the two leaders declared a “no limits” strategic partnership through the joint statement, while asserting that they would have “no ‘forbidden’ areas of cooperation.”

The statement also joins China in Russia’s opposition to the “further enlargement of NATO.”

Also on Feb. 24, the Chinese foreign ministry announced that its top diplomat, Wang Yi, had spoken with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov. According to the ministry, Wang said that the Ukraine issue had a “complex and special” history and reiterated that China understands what it called Russia’s “legitimate concern” on security.

Wang also said that the “Cold War mentality” should be abandoned and called for talks.

In recent years, China’s state-run media and Chinese Communist Party officials have attacked the U.S. government and officials for having a “Cold War” mindset.

For example, after the United States, the U.K., and Australia formed the AUKUS defense pact in 2021, the Chinese foreign ministry attacked the three nations for having an “outdated Cold War zero-sum mentality.”
Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) issued a statement, highlighting the broader implications of Moscow’s action.

“We have entered a new era of authoritarian aggression, led by Russia and China’s dictators, who are increasingly isolated and dangerous, driven by historical grievances, paranoid about their democratic neighbors, and willing to use military force and other aggressive actions to crush the citizens of such countries,” Sullivan stated.

“These dangerous dictators—Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping—are increasingly working together to achieve their aggressive goals.”

U.S. Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) questioned why Biden has so far decided only to sanction Russian individuals and entities.
“China and Russia are working together to undermine the U.S. We need to target them both,” Banks wrote on Twitter. “But Biden’s sanctions only target Russia. China is still allowed to do business with sanctioned Russian banks.”

“Why won’t Biden stand up to China?” Banks asked.

Reuters contributed to this article.
Frank Fang is a Taiwan-based journalist. He covers U.S., China, and Taiwan news. He holds a master's degree in materials science from Tsinghua University in Taiwan.
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