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China miscalculated in backing Russia's war in Ukraine - US Ambassador to Beijing

China miscalculated in backing Russia's war in Ukraine - US Ambassador to Beijing Nicholas Burns (Getty Images)
Author: Maria Kholina

Beijing underestimated the impact on its relations with Europe when it supported Russia in its war with Ukraine. Ties between the world’s second-largest economy and Western democracies are weakening, according to US Ambassador to China Nicholas Burns.

"I think the Chinese have miscalculated. I actually think the Chinese did not understand the core value that we place in our current world on peace and unity in Europe itself," he said.

The European Union now acts in "outright opposition" to China's support for Moscow, added Burns, who took his position in Beijing just days after the invasion. The EU and NATO have called China a systemic rival "in part because of this," he said.

"China is not exhibiting the behavior of a neutral country," Burns said, referencing previous comments from Beijing about its stance.

The US has conveyed to Beijing "at great length, at very senior levels" concerns that Chinese companies are supplying Russia with dual-use technologies used in the war, he added.

"This is an existential war. One of the great, great achievements of the end of the Cold War was a free, democratic and united Europe with no divisions in it whatsoever," said Burns.

Xi Jinping’s communist regime has offered diplomatic and economic support to Vladimir Putin after Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022.

Leaders in Washington and Europe have warned in recent months that Chinese banks could face sanctions for supporting the Kremlin's war machine.