China rejects further restraints on trade with Russia ahead of top US envoy Antony Blinken’s arrival in Beijing

China rejects further restraints on trade with Russia ahead of top US envoy Antony Blinken’s arrival in Beijing

China said it would “resolutely defend” its “inviolable” rights to trade with Russia, as the United States reportedly considers sanctioning Chinese banks during US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s three-day trip to Beijing.

Just a day ahead of Blinken’s arrival, The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday that Washington was drafting sanctions against Chinese banks to provide him with the leverage to persuade Beijing to stop its commercial support of Russia’s military production.

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“We firmly oppose the hypocritical practice of the United States of pouring fuel to the fire while blaming China,” Wang Wenbin, spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said. Photo: dpa

The proposed sanctions would cut some Chinese banks off from the global financial system, among Washington’s strongest financial coercive tools, according to the report which cited sources. Russian banks have been cut off since the war against Ukraine started in February 2022.

In response to the report, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said that Beijing had already set export restrictions on dual-use products – products that could have military applications – and rejected any criticism.

“China’s right to conduct normal economic and trade exchanges with all countries in the world – including Russia – on the basis of equality and mutual benefit cannot be interfered with or undermined, and China’s legitimate rights and interests cannot be infringed upon,” Wang said.

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Two months after Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce issued a draft regulation on dual-use items export control, and in 2023 further tightened export restrictions on drones that could have potential military uses.

Wang called it “extremely hypocritical and irresponsible” of the US to pass a bill on large-scale assistance to Ukraine while making accusations against China’s normal economic and trade exchanges with Russia.

He said that China was neither the creator nor a party to the Ukraine crisis, and that it had never taken advantage of the conflict.

“We firmly oppose the hypocritical practice of the United States of pouring fuel to the fire while blaming China,” Wang said.

Commenting on Blinken’s visit on Monday, Beijing said the US should “immediately stop” imposing unilateral sanctions on Chinese companies and individuals, and reflect on its own responsibility in the Ukraine crisis.

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“The Ukrainian issue is not an issue between China and the United States, and the United States should not turn it into an issue between China and the United States,” the Chinese foreign ministry said.

China has consistently claimed to be neutral in the Russia-Ukraine war and continuously called for a ceasefire.

But the US and its European allies regard China as siding with Russia, since Beijing has refused to condemn Russia’s invasion and maintained close ties with Moscow, especially boosting trade with its neighbour despite Western sanctions.

During his trip, Blinken is expected to convey to Chinese leaders the dissatisfaction of the US and its allies about China’s continued supply of key technologies and products such as chips and engines to Russia, which they say enables Moscow to replenish its military industries.

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