Blinken to raise China’s support for Russia’s defense industrial base during visit

By Thomson Reuters Apr 16, 2024 | 2:08 PM

By Simon Lewis

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on an upcoming visit to China is expected to raise U.S. concerns Beijing is helping Russia build up its defense industrial base to fight the war in Ukraine, State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said on Tuesday.

The U.S. has warned China not to aid Moscow’s war effort since Russia’s full scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, which came just weeks after Russia and China declared a “no limits partnership.”

“What we have seen over the past months is that there have been materials moving from China to Russia that Russia has used to rebuild that industrial base and produce arms that are showing up on the battlefield in Ukraine,” Miller said at a press briefing. “And we are incredibly concerned about that.”

U.S. officials briefed reporters last week on materials China was providing to Russia, including drone and missile technology, satellite imagery and machine tools, that fall short of providing lethal assistance but were helping Russia build up its military to sustain its two-year-old war in Ukraine.

A Chinese embassy spokesperson told Reuters last week that China was not a party to the Ukraine crisis and that normal trade between China and Russia should not be interfered with or restricted.

President Joe Biden raised the issue with Chinese President Xi Jinping in a phone call earlier this month, after which U.S. officials said Blinken would travel to China in the coming weeks. Details of Blinken’s trip have not yet been announced.

“Without getting too far ahead of those meetings, you can certainly expect that that is an issue that he would be expected to raise,” Miller said.

Blinken raised the issue with NATO foreign ministers in Brussels earlier this month and would also discuss it when he meets counterparts from the Group of Seven (G7) advanced economies in Italy this week, he added.

(Reporting by Simon Lewis, Costas Pitas and Daphne Psaledakis; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Daniel Wallis)