China is “seriously contemplating,” according to the United States Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, giving Russia “lethal support” in its nearly one-year battle with Ukraine.
On the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference on Saturday, Blinken claimed he had a meeting with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi and urged Beijing against taking such a step.
“China is trying to have it both ways,” Blinken told NBC News’s Chuck Todd in an interview set to air on Sunday. “Publicly, they present themselves as a country striving for peace in Ukraine. But privately, as I said, we’ve seen already over these past months the provision of non-lethal assistance that does go directly to aiding and abetting Russia’s war effort.”
He added that further information indicates that Beijing is considering providing “material support to Russia’s war effort that would have a lethal effect.”
Blinken pointed out that China hasn’t yet given Russia any lethal help.
“We see China considering this. We have not seen them cross that line,” he said. “So, I think it’s important that we make clear, as I did this evening in my meeting with Wang Yi, that this is something that is of deep concern to us.”
“I made clear the importance of not crossing that line and the fact that it would have serious consequences on our own relationship, something that we do not need on top of the balloon incident that China is engaged in,” Blinken added.
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After a rumoured Chinese surveillance balloon was seen circling the United States in recent weeks, tensions between the United States and China have become especially heated. Before being shot down on February 4 off the coast of South Carolina, the balloon travelled across the country for approximately a week.
A State Department official described the balloon’s presence in American airspace as a “clear breach of our sovereignty as well as international law,” which led to the cancellation of Blinken’s travel to Beijing.
During the Munich Security Conference on Saturday, Wang, the director of the Office of the Central Foreign Affairs Committee, called Washington’s response to the Chinese balloon “hysterical.”
The “Meet the Press” segment with Blinken will appear on NBC on Sunday morning.