Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, on Sunday said China would cross “a red line” if it provided lethal aid to Russia in its war against Ukraine, as tensions between Washington and Beijing continue to rise.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken over the weekend warned the U.S. is seeing indications that Beijing is prepared to supply Moscow with deadly weapons. Blinken shared the information with allies at the Munich Security Conference this weekend.
“We also have to be clear that, if there are any thoughts and efforts by the Chinese and others to provide lethal support to the Russians in their brutal attack against Ukraine, that that is unacceptable,” Thomas-Greenfield told CNN’s “State of the Union.” “Again, that would be a red line.”
Josep Borrell, the EU’s foreign policy chief, echoed Thomas-Greenfield’s remarks, saying such Chinese action would also cross a “red line” for the 27-nation bloc.
This comes as relations between the U.S. and China have been strained over the downing of a suspected Chinese spy balloon earlier this month. Blinken met his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, on Saturday, marking the first high-level talks between the two governments since that incident.
Blinken said he had a “very direct” conversation with Wang, about his country’s balloon surveillance program, as well as the latest intelligence regarding China’s purported intention to support Russia, as the conflict nears its one-year mark.
“I made clear, as President Biden has, almost from day one with President Xi, that that would have serious consequences in our own relationship,” Blinken told ABC’s “This Week.”
While Blinken declined to provide additional details on the new U.S. intelligence, he said the U.S. has been concerned about China’s relationship to Russia for a long time, particularly since Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin met last March and claimed their partnership had “no limits.”
“China has been engaged in providing rhetorical, political, diplomatic support to Russia, but we have information that gives us concern that they are considering providing lethal support to Russia in the war against Ukraine,” Blinked told ABC’s Martha Raddatz. “And it was important for me to share very clearly with Wang Yi that this would be a serious problem.”
In a separate interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press” Blinken said there was “no doubt” the balloon the U.S. shot down on Feb. 4, which the Pentagon described as being the size of three school buses, “was attempting to engage in active surveillance.”
The Chinese have denied this, claiming the balloon was being used for meteorological research and accidentally drifted off course.
“What is clear is that, once the balloon was over the United States and flying basically west to east, it attempted to surveil very sensitive military sites. In some cases, it loitered or returned to them as it progressed east,” he told NBC’s Chuck Todd.