‘Gigantic mistake’: Biden warned China’s Xi over aiding Russia

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The phone call was ‘not to threaten’ the Chinese leader but to warn of the consequences of ignoring Western sanctions, US president says.

US President Joe Biden says he told Chinese President Xi Jinping it would be a “gigantic mistake” to violate sanctions against Russia after its invasion of Ukraine.

The US president said he spoke with Xi after China’s leader met Russian President Vladimir Putin during the Winter Olympics in February. Russia attacked its neighbour shortly thereafter.

Biden made the comments in an interview with American broadcaster CBS that aired on Sunday.

“I said: ‘If you think that Americans and others will continue to invest in China based on your violating the sanctions that have been imposed on Russia, I think you’re making a gigantic mistake. But that’s your decision to make,’” said the US leader.

The call was “not to threaten” the Chinese president but to warn about the consequences of ignoring Western sanctions, Biden noted.

“Thus far, there’s no indication they’ve put forward weapons or other things that Russia has wanted,” Biden said of China.

China’s deep reliance on trade with the West means Beijing will not want to do anything that jeopardises its economy, analysts say.

‘Unipolar world’

Putin’s relations with the West continue to unravel over his war on Ukraine. After the Kremlin sent in troops on February 24, the West introduced unprecedented sanctions against Moscow.

China has thrown Russia an economic lifeline since the invasion but the moves have benefitted Beijing too. China has positioned itself as an alternative market for Russian goods and as a major customer for cheap Russian fuel.

Putin last week denounced those who attempted to “create a unipolar world” and expressed appreciation for Xi for “the balanced position of our Chinese friends in connection with the Ukrainian crisis”.

At their last meeting in February, Xi promised Putin the Russia-China relationship would be “without limits”.

But at last week’s Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit in Uzbekistan, Putin admitted Xi expressed “questions and concerns” over what Russia calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine.

In other comments during the wide-ranging CBS interview, Biden pressed Putin not to use tactical nuclear or chemical weapons after a series of battlefield defeats after Ukraine launched counteroffensives.

Biden also declared the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States “over” and predicted his administration would tame inflation – the main reason for his weak approval ratings and the reason Republicans believe they can take control of Congress in the upcoming November midterm elections.

“We’re going to get control of inflation,” pledged the US leader.

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