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The phone call between Joe Biden and Xi Jinping ends with the US saying there will be consequences if China helps Russia, and China saying it doesn’t want war, but without pointing out responsibility for it.

The conversation between Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Joe Biden lasted two hours, but the two sides seemed to remain distant on the war in Ukraine: the US warned of consequences if China gives economic aid or Russia, China says it wants peace in Ukraine, but does not point the finger at the invading country, trying to maintain a position of neutrality that the United States is challenging. “China has to decide which side it wants to be on,” said White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki.

The first, and long, a summary of the conversation came from China: Xi said that “the crisis in Ukraine is something we do not want to see” and that countries should “respect each other, avoiding the Cold War mentality”, and “refrain from confrontation in blocks”.

The United States, meanwhile, was slow to summarize the call, saying Biden warned Xi of the “implications and consequences” if Beijing “supports Russia while the Russian army attacks cities and civilians in Ukraine.” At the ensuing press conference, Jen Psaki did not specify what the consequences would be, saying only, in response to a question from a journalist, that “sanctions are just one of the possible tools” and that President Joe Biden would discuss this issue. with the allies on their trip to Europe next week.

Imposing sanctions on Beijing would have huge consequences for the US and the world, as the country is the world’s largest exporter and second-largest economy, recalls Reuters.

China is trying not to harm its alliance with Russia, elevated in February to “unlimited partnership” and, on the other hand, it also wants to maintain economic ties with Ukraine and is not interested in the country’s destruction, the key to its New Silk Road project – and it is also not interested in losing the goodwill it has in most of the world’s capitals, which could end up happening with this attempt by China to appear neutral, says the Reuters agency.

There was also, on the Chinese side, a very critical stance towards sanctions: “By imposing general and indiscriminate sanctions, it is ordinary people who suffer,” read the statement, quoted by the Washington Post. If there are more sanctions, “this will provoke serious crises in the local economy, trade, finance, energy, food, industrial and supply chain, worsening the already difficult situation of the world economy and causing irreparable damage”.

On the American side, the tone towards China has been rising, with public expressions of concern that Beijing may be preparing to help Russia repeated several times this week. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan warned that the US would not hesitate to “impose costs” if Beijing helps Moscow.

China is in a difficult position, David Shullman, of the Atlantic Council’s Global China Hub, told the Washington Post. “This war is a huge disruption at a very bad time for China,” he said. “Beijing doesn’t know how this is going to end… They don’t see an opportunity right now. They are at an impasse and trying to find a way out.”

Source: with agencies

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