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Sunday, July 21, 2024

NATO Accuses China of Enabling Russia’s War Effort

NATO has accused China of significantly aiding Russia in its war against Ukraine, marking a notable shift in its stance towards Beijing. The declaration, approved by 32 NATO leaders, demands that China halt shipments of weapons components and technology essential for Russia’s military rebuild. This is a major departure for NATO, which until 2019 had only minimally mentioned China as a concern.

For the first time, NATO has joined the U.S. in denouncing China’s military support for Russia. The declaration implies that China’s increasing support for Russia will incur costs, stating that China “cannot enable the largest war in Europe in recent history without this negatively impacting its interests and reputation.” The declaration highlights China’s “large-scale support for Russia’s defense industrial base,” without specifying the potential consequences, though economic sanctions are a probable first step.

Previously, European leaders were hesitant to challenge Beijing, especially countries like Germany that view China as a crucial market for luxury goods. Many initially downplayed the significance of the “partnership without limits” agreement between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping, signed just before the Beijing Olympics in early 2022. President Biden himself had expressed doubts about the partnership’s impact. However, 29 months after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, NATO’s perspective has shifted drastically.

Although China has avoided providing full weapons systems to Russia, it has supplied computer chips, advanced software, and components vital for Russia’s defense industry. This intelligence was shared with NATO countries by the Biden administration, convincing skeptics of China’s pivotal role in the war. The U.S. Treasury Department’s economic sanctions against Chinese entities involved in funneling technology to Russia further underscored this point.

China has denied these accusations, labeling them hypocritical and irresponsible, without denying the specifics. The standoff over China’s role in Ukraine threatens to undermine any progress made during President Biden’s meeting with Xi Jinping in November in California, where Biden had privately warned Xi about interfering in the 2024 presidential election. At that time, there was no clear evidence of China becoming a significant force in aiding Russia’s war effort.

China’s support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has evolved. Shortly before the full-scale invasion in February 2022, China’s top foreign policy official, Wang Yi, affirmed at the Munich Security Conference that Beijing respected the sovereignty of independent nations, including Ukraine. However, China now openly supports Russia’s attempt to annex Ukrainian territory.

Since then, China and Russia have increased their joint military projects and exercises. Xi and Putin have met approximately 50 times as presidents, signaling a strong alliance. Their efforts with Europe to curb North Korea’s nuclear ambitions and prevent Iran from pursuing similar capabilities have diminished as their partnership solidifies.

This development marks a significant escalation in NATO’s stance towards China, with potential economic and diplomatic repercussions as the alliance confronts Beijing’s role in supporting Russia’s war in Ukraine.

David Faber
David Faber
I am a Business Journalist of The National Era
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