The United States has recently begun to see “disturbing” trend lines in China’s support for Russia’s military and there are signs that Beijing wants to “crawl to the line” of providing lethal military aid to Russia without getting caught, US officials familiar with said. with intelligence. CNN.
The officials did not describe in detail what intelligence the United States had seen suggesting a recent shift in China’s stance, but said American officials were concerned enough to share the intelligence with allies and partners at the Munich Security Conference in recent days. .
Secretary of State Antony Blinken raised the issue when he met his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on Saturday on the sidelines of the conference, officials said.
Vice President Kamala Harris also alluded to China’s support for Russia during a speech in Munich.
“We are also concerned that Beijing has deepened its relationship with Moscow since the beginning of the war,” Harris said Saturday. “Looking forward, any move by China to provide lethal support to Russia would only reward aggression, continue the killing and further undermine a rules-based order.”
Officials said the United States is seeing China trying to publicly present itself as a proponent of peace – Wang Yi said in Munich on Saturday that Beijing would present a “peace plan” for Ukraine and Russia – and maintain relations with Europe, while at the same time quietly aiding Russia’s war effort and considering providing lethal aid.
On Saturday at the conference, Wang Yi said, “This war cannot continue. We need to think about what efforts we can make to end this war.”
As CNN reported, the Biden administration last month raised concerns with China over evidence suggesting Chinese companies sold non-lethal equipment to Russia for use in Ukraine, in an effort to verify how much Beijing knows about the transactions, according to two American officers.
That equipment included items such as bulletproof vests and helmets, multiple sources familiar with US and European intelligence told CNN. But China stopped short of more robust military assistance, such as lethal weapons systems for use on the battlefield in Ukraine, which Russia requested because it did not want to be seen as a pariah on the world stage, officials said.
But there are signs that Beijing may be considering it, officials said, and Biden administration officials are publicly and privately warning that the United States is closely monitoring any violations of Western sanctions banning military support for Russia.
China and Russia publicly declared a “boundless friendship” just before Russia invaded Ukraine last year, and Wang Yi is due to visit Russia this month, CNN reported.
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