The call was “not meant to threaten” the Chinese leader, but to warn of the consequences of ignoring Western sanctions, says the US president.
US President Joe Biden said he told Chinese President Xi Jinping it was a “huge mistake” to violate sanctions against Russia after its invasion of Ukraine.
The US president said he spoke to Xi after China’s leader met Russian President Vladimir Putin during the Winter Olympics in February. Shortly thereafter, Russia attacked its neighbor.
Biden made the comments in an interview with American broadcaster CBS that aired on Sunday.
“I said, ‘If you think that Americans and others will continue to invest in China because you are violating the sanctions that have been imposed on Russia, I think you are making a huge mistake. But that’s your choice,'” the US leader said.
The call was to “not threaten” the Chinese president, but to warn of the consequences of ignoring Western sanctions, Biden noted.
“So far there is no indication that they have proposed weapons or anything else that Russia wanted,” Biden said of China.
China’s heavy reliance on trade with the West means Beijing is unwilling to do anything that jeopardizes its economy, analysts say.
Putin’s relations with the West continue to falter over his war in Ukraine. After the Kremlin dispatched troops on February 24, the West imposed unprecedented sanctions on Moscow.
China has thrown an economic lifeline to Russia since the invasion, but the moves have also benefited Beijing. China has positioned itself as an alternative market for Russian goods and a major buyer of cheap Russian fuel.
Putin last week condemned those trying to “create a unipolar world” and expressed his appreciation for Xi for “our Chinese friends’ balanced position on the Ukraine crisis.”
At their last meeting in February, Xi promised Putin that relations between Russia and China would be “borderless.”
But at last week’s Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Uzbekistan, Putin admitted that Xi raised “questions and concerns” about what Russia is calling its “special military operation” in Ukraine.
In other comments during the wide-ranging CBS interview, Biden urged Putin not to use tactical nuclear or chemical weapons after a series of battlefield defeats after Ukraine launched counteroffensives.
Biden also declared the COVID-19 pandemic “over” in the United States and predicted his administration would tame inflation — the main reason for his weak approval ratings and the reason Republicans believe they will in the upcoming midterm elections take control of Congress in November.
“We will get inflation under control,” the US leader promised.