China, Russia’s most powerful ally, was notably restrained in its initial reaction to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, offering little direct support for Moscow as much of the world seeks to isolate Moscow economically and diplomatically.
“I would like to say that China is closely following the situation in Ukraine,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told a media briefing Thursday. “We call on all parties to exercise restraint and prevent the situation from getting out of control.”
“We still hope that the parties concerned will not shut the door to peace and engage instead in dialogue and consultation and prevent the situation from further escalating,” she said.
A foreign diplomat based in Beijing said the statement was consistent with China’s recent remarks on the Ukraine crisis but expressed surprise that Hua did not promise Moscow more help against what Western leaders say will be crushing economic sanctions.
“This is more or less what China has been saying [the] last few days,” said the diplomat, who asked not to be identified. “The least one would have expected from Beijing is an assurance that it will go ahead with the recent agreement on purchase of Russia gas.”
Nevertheless, there were signs that China will help to soften the blow of the expected sanctions, some of which have already been announced. The Chinese Customs department released a new order signed Wednesday for the purchase of Russian wheat.
Source: Voice of America