Ukraine war: US sanctions on China for supporting Russia are not needed yet, says Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen

  • ‘We would be very concerned if they were to supply weapons to Russia, or to try to evade the sanctions put in place. We don’t see that happening at this point’
  • US Treasury secretary adds that the US is talking to China ‘privately and quietly’

The United States has no immediate plans to sanction China over the war in Ukraine because Beijing has so far not provided military support to Moscow, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on Friday.

“I don’t think that that’s necessary or appropriate at this point,” Yellen said in an interview on CNBC. “Senior administration officials are talking privately and quietly with China to make sure that they understand our position.”

The comments were the latest in Washington’s pressure campaign against Beijing over its stance on the war in Ukraine.

Chinese officials have pointedly refused to condemn Russia for invading its neighbour, or acknowledge the attack as an invasion at all.

Russia attacked its neighbour just weeks after Chinese leader Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin declared a “no limits” partnership for their countries, leading to many questions in Washington and around the world about how much Xi knew in advance about Putin’s plans to invade.

The US government has said it is watching closely to see if China will provide any military or financial support to help Moscow fight its war or evade the financial sanctions put in place by Washington and its allies.

The war has already led to thousands of deaths and millions of refugees fleeing Ukraine to neighbouring countries in Europe. The US government determined this week that Russia has committed war crimes including assaults against civilians and children throughout Ukraine.

“We would be very concerned if they were to supply weapons to Russia, or to try to evade the sanctions that we’ve put in place on the Russian financial system and the central bank,” Yellen said about China. “We don’t see that happening at this point.”

US officials including President Joe Biden have warned China in public and private that any support for Russia in its invasion of Ukraine would lead to potentially severe consequences for Beijing.

Mira Rapp-Hooper, a senior official for China policy on Biden’s National Security Council, said on Friday that the US would likely have a hard time driving Beijing apart from Moscow, even if the Chinese government is not fully comfortable with the war.

“We’re unlikely, I think, to see a fully and publicly unified Moscow and Beijing in which China is totally comfortable being saddled with the burden of Vladimir Putin’s brutal and ill-begotten war,” Rapp-Hooper said, according to Reuters.

“That is to say that we are likely to continue to see some amount of Chinese support for the Russian economy, but a dance that Beijing tries to do to keep up its economic ties to the European Union in particular, but also to the United States,” she said.

Author: Jacob Fromer, SCMP

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