China-Russia relations raise concerns again after allegations that China is selling non-lethal equipment to Russia for use in Ukraine. Such equipment includes but is not limited to flak jackets, body armor and helmets, according to reports.
While the Biden administration is still weighing the impact and overall significance of the support, it is a matter of increasing concern among US officials.
While relations between the US and China continue to plummet – most recently due to the fallout from the Chinese spy balloon that was shot down over US airspace – China and Russia are as close as ever since their leaders declared a “no-limits” friendship a year ago.
Both Biden and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan have issued warnings to China of the potential consequences should China choose to support Russia in the conflict. Vice President Kamala Harris said:
“We are also troubled that Beijing has deepened its relationship with Moscow since the war began. Looking ahead, any steps by China to provide lethal support to Russia would only reward aggression, continue the killing, and further undermine a rules-based order.”
Responding to the accusations, China’s Foreign Ministry blasted the US for “shoving responsibility, shifting blame and spreading false information.”
Their spokesperson said, “It is the US side, not the Chinese side, that supplies a steady stream of weapons to the battlefield. The US side is not qualified to lecture China, and we would never accept the US dictating or even coercing pressure on Sino-Russian relations… Who is calling for dialogue and peace? And who is handing out knives and encouraging confrontation? The international community can see clearly.”
According to one source, Beijing’s support for Moscow, when measured by its annual trade, diplomatic engagements, and schedule of joint military exercises, has grown tremendously over the past year. The source told NBC News that China was trying “to creep up to the line without getting caught,” and that recent trend lines point to potentially more tangible Chinese government support for the Russian military.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, advised Chinese leaders not to do anything rash. “To the Chinese, if you jump on the Putin train now, you’re dumber than dirt,” he said. “It would be like buying a ticket on the Titanic after you saw the movie. Don’t do this.”
Biden previously warned Xi Jinping against sending “material support” to Russia just weeks after Russia began its offense against Ukraine. As the conflict in Ukraine reaches its one-year anniversary, Biden’s cabinet is circling the same warnings.