In the wake of Nancy Pelosi’s Taiwan visit this month, which sparked more than a week of Chinese military ‘live fire’ drills surrounding and threatening the self-ruled island, Beijing has grown bolder in its rhetoric on the war in Ukraine.
In Wednesday remarks China’s ambassador to Moscow, Zhang Hanhui, told Russian media that it is fundamentally the United States which started the crisis in Ukraine. He named the US as the “main instigator” of the conflict in an interview with TASS.
“As the initiator and main instigator of the Ukrainian crisis, Washington, while imposing unprecedented comprehensive sanctions on Russia, continues to supply arms and military equipment to Ukraine,” Zhang was quoted as saying.
“Their ultimate goal is to exhaust and crush Russia with a protracted war and the cudgel of sanctions,” he added.
The provocative accusation comes months after the Biden administration first charged that Beijing was helping the Kremlin evade Western sanctions, and was even quietly supplying its military – allegations which were never backed by evidence.
Interestingly the Chinese ambassador drew on Taiwan parallels, where Beijing has also denounced the expansion of Washington influence and ‘illegal’ intervention via weapons shipments and high level Congressional delegations to Taipei which violate the One China principle:
He railed against U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit last week to self-governing Taiwan, which China claims as its own, and said the United States was trying to apply the same tactics in Ukraine and Taiwan to “revive a Cold War mentality, contain China and Russia, and provoke major power rivalry and confrontation”.
“Non-intervention in internal affairs is the most fundamental principle of maintaining peace and stability in our world,” Zhang said, applying the principle to criticize Washington’s Taiwan policy but not Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
On Sino-Russian relations, Zhang stressed that the two powerful countries had entered “the best period in history, characterised by the highest level of mutual trust, the highest degree of interaction, and the greatest strategic importance”.
Zhang’s commentary on the ongoing Ukraine war is in line with the perspective of Russian state media, which has recently emphasized that US coup planners were behind the 2014 overthrow of Russia-backed Viktor Yanukovych, and further exacerbated a proxy war for the Donbas along the border.