US threatens China with sanctions over Ukraine-Russia war, worrying other Asian nations

US threatens China with sanctions over Ukraine-Russia war, worrying other Asian nations
U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan speaks to the media about the war in Ukraine and other topics at the White House in Washington, U.S., March 22, 2022. REUTERS/Leah Millis

Biden has come out to threaten China, saying that if it supplies military equipment to Russia, the US will put in sanctions. As of Tuesday though, the US national security adviser Jake Sullivan says that there’s no evidence of China helping Russia out with military equipment.

China isn’t the only country to remain somewhat neutral over the Ukraine war. India and other southeast Asian nations, like Indonesia and Thailand, have as well, but these countries are notably reliant on Russia for military equipment.

These countries have seen Beijing’s stance as neutral, so they’ve felt comfortable with their own neutral stance as well. But now they are worried because, with this sanction threat from the US, the concern is maybe their stance isn’t “neutral enough.”

Key comments:

“Even before the invasion of Ukraine, the multilateral world order was already under considerable strain from the strategic tensions between the big powers. The current crisis will further accentuate these rifts, and pose a grave threat to the international rule of law,” said Singapore Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat during a conference on Tuesday.

“Southeast Asian countries are not without agency, and their stances they adopt towards the conflict will be based on their national interests and foreign policy outlooks,” he said. “Overt pressure from Washington, Beijing or Moscow to pick sides will likely backfire.”

“So far we’ve seen China’s neutral position. And, as I said before, we believe that China is one of the most potent global leaders,” said Andriy Yermak, the head of Zelenskiy’s office, to a virtual news conference organized by the Chatham House think-tank in London. “It should play a more noticeable role in bringing this war to an end and in building up a new global security system.”

“We also expect China to be one of the guarantors within the framework of the security system," Yermak added. “We treat China with utmost respect, and we expect it to play a proactive role there."

“What I can tell you is we have not seen … the provision of military equipment by China to Russia, but of course this is something we are monitoring closely. We will continue to monitor it," national security advisor Jake Sullivan said on Tuesday. “And the president made clear to President Xi the implications and consequences of any such provision of equipment, and they very well understand one another."

“On April 1, the European Union is having a summit with China. And so this will be an opportunity, Thursday, for the United States and our European partners, to coordinate closely on what our message is. We believe we’re very much on the same page with our European partners, and we will be speaking with one voice on this issue," Sullivan said.

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