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U.S. Secretary of State Blinken warned top Chinese diplomat Wang Yi of consequences for supporting Russia

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned China’s top diplomat Wang Yi on Saturday of the consequences if China provided material support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and in an interview after the two met, he said Washington was concerned that Beijing was considering arms shipments to Moscow.

Top diplomats from the two superpowers met at an undisclosed location on the sidelines of a global security conference in Munich, just hours after Wang berated Washington for being “hysterical” in the ongoing dispute over the United States’ downing of a suspected Chinese spy balloon.

Relations between the two countries have been strained since Washington said China flew a spy balloon over the continental US before it was shot down by US fighter jets on President Joe Biden’s orders. The dispute also came at a time when the West is closely watching Beijing’s response to the war in Ukraine.

In an interview that will air Sunday morning on NBC News’ “Meet the Press with Chuck Todd,” Blinken said the United States is very concerned that China is considering providing lethal support to Russia and that he made it clear to Wang that “it would be a serious consequences in our relationship.”


“There are various types of lethal assistance that they are at least considering providing, including weapons,” Blinken said, adding that Washington would release more details soon.

Wang told Blinken that the United States must “confront and resolve the damage” to bilateral relations “caused by the indiscriminate use of force,” according to a brief statement from China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Sunday.

Wang was referring to the recent downing of what the United States called a spy balloon, but Beijing said it was a weather monitoring vessel.

A senior State Department official told reporters that China is trying to “have it both ways” when it says it wants to contribute to peace and stability but also takes “considerable” steps to support Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. .


Blinken “was quite blunt in warning of the implications and consequences of China providing material support to Russia or helping Russia systematically circumvent sanctions,” the senior official said on condition of anonymity.

Russia and China signed an “unrestricted” partnership last February shortly before Russian forces invaded Ukraine, and their economic ties have boomed as Moscow’s ties to the West have weakened.

The West has been wary of China’s response to the war in Ukraine, with some warning that a Russian victory would color China’s actions toward Taiwan. China refrained from condemning the war or calling it an “invasion”.

Earlier, speaking on a panel at the conference, Wang reiterated the call for dialogue and suggested European countries “calmly think” about how to end the war.


He also said there were “some forces that don’t seem to want the negotiations to succeed or the war to end soon,” without specifying who he was referring to.


Blinken and Wang’s meeting came hours after China’s top diplomat lashed out at the United States, accusing it of violating international norms by behaving “hysterically” when it shot down the balloon.

The balloon’s flight over the US territory this month caused an uproar in Washington and prompted Blinken to postpone a planned visit to Beijing. The Feb. 5-6 trip would be the first by a US secretary of state to China in five years and was seen by both sides as an opportunity to stabilize increasingly strained relations.

“To send an advanced fighter jet to shoot down a balloon with a missile is such behavior is unbelievable, almost hysterical,” Wang said.


“There are so many balloons all over the world and different countries have them. So the United States is going to shoot them all down?” he said.

China reacted angrily when the US military shot down a 200-foot (60-meter) balloon on February 4, saying it was used to monitor weather conditions and that it had flown off course. Washington said it was clearly a surveillance balloon with a massive undercarriage holding electronics.

Questions swirled about whether Blinken and Wang would use the Munich conference as an opportunity to meet again in person, and the State Department only confirmed the hour-long meeting after it had ended.

In an interview with NBC, Blinken said Wang did not apologize for the balloon flight.


“I told him quite simply that this is unacceptable and it can never happen again,” Blinken said, referring to the balloon’s violation of US airspace.

“There was no apology,” he said, adding that he had not discussed rescheduling his trip to China with Wang.

Washington had hoped to put a “floor” under relations that hit a dangerous low in August when China responded to a visit to Taiwan by the then US. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

But Craig Singleton, a China expert at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington, said that while Wang’s comments at the conference were likely aimed at deflecting embarrassment over the balloon incident, the lack of a strong response from Washington “increases China’s appetite for risk in future disputes.”


“The Blinken-Wang meeting will not change the downward trajectory of US-China relations. It is clear that there is almost no trust between the two sides,” Singleton said.

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