China’s ambassador to the United States on Wednesday attempted to walk back his country’s declaration of a “no limits” partnership with Russia, suggesting there’s been a “misunderstanding” of China-Russia relations amid Moscow’s assault on Ukraine.
Speaking during a fireside chat at the Aspen Institute Security Forum, Ambassador Qin Gang addressed the February statement in which the two countries opposed NATO expansion and said there are “no forbidden areas of cooperation.”
“This is a misunderstanding of China-Russia relations,” he said. “China-Russia relationship is not an alliance.”
The ambassador, who arrived in Washington a year ago, said China is not interested in “confrontation,” adding that both Russia and China share a common rejection of the “Cold War mentality.” Qin refused to call Russia’s war on Ukraine an invasion, instead referring to it as a “crisis.”
The comments come as China continues its tightrope walk regarding Russia’s attack in Ukraine — refusing to condemn Moscow while maintaining trade with its neighbor — adding an additional layer to the already tense U.S.-Chinese relations. Earlier this month, Secretary of State Antony Blinken told Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi that his country’s support for Russia was complicating China’s relationship with the United States.
Just as Wang did with Blinken, Qin placed the blame for the troubled relationship squarely at the feet of the U.S., portraying China as the good actor amid the tensions.
Qin’s answers were overwhelmingly a retread of familiar Chinese foreign ministry cliches, including criticism of the U.S. for a “Cold War mentality” and dismissals of U.S. concern about threats to democracy and human rights violations in Xinjiang and Hong Kong as “lies” and “malicious attacks.”
Phelim Klein contributed to this report.