HONG KONG — China on Monday accused the United States of “disinformation” and a “double standard” over warnings that it is considering sending Russia artillery and ammunition for its war in Ukraine.
Beijing is promoting peace talks while it is Washington that is stoking the conflict, the country’s foreign ministry said, after Western officials raised growing concerns about China’s intentions.
“On the Ukraine issue, China supports an objective and just position and actively promotes peace talks. The U.S., however, has been fanning the flames and fueling the fight with more weaponry” for Kyiv, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said at a regular news briefing, pointing to a peace plan China released Friday on the war’s one-year anniversary.
“The U.S. has been spreading disinformation about China supplying weapons to Russia and using the allegation to sanction Chinese enterprises,” Mao said, describing this as a “double standard and the very definition of hypocrisy.” She added that Beijing had lodged stern representations with Washington after the Commerce Department on Friday blacklisted five Chinese companies it accused of providing assistance to the Russian military.
China’s 12-point proposal calls for a cease-fire between Kyiv and Moscow, the start of peace talks and an end to Western sanctions on Russia. U.S. and European officials have dismissed the Chinese plan as too favorable to Moscow, though Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Friday that he wanted to discuss it with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
The Chinese government, which last year announced a “no limits” partnership with Russia, has refrained from condemning Russia’s aggression as it strives to portray itself as neutral. It has criticized Western sanctions as ineffective while also being careful to avoid violating them.
U.S. officials first publicly accused China of considering providing lethal assistance earlier this month, drawing strong denials from Beijing. New intelligence suggests the assistance could include artillery and ammunition, three U.S. officials familiar with the matter said over the weekend, without providing evidence.
The new intelligence was originally reported by The Wall Street Journal and confirmed to NBC News by a former U.S. official and a Western official briefed on the matter.
National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said Sunday that the White House had not yet seen China provide Russia with lethal assistance, but warned that doing so would be against Beijing’s interests.
“I think it would alienate them from a number of countries in the world, including our European allies,” he said on NBC News’ “Meet the Press.”
Also on Monday, China accused the U.S. of undermining peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait by flying a P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft through the narrow waterway, which China claims as its territory along with the island of Taiwan. Taiwan and the U.S. consider the strait to be international territory, and it is regularly traversed by U.S. warships and sometimes aircraft.
“The action of the U.S. deliberately interferes with and disrupts the situation in the region and jeopardizes peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait. We firmly oppose this action,” the Eastern Theater Command of China’s People’s Liberation Army said in a statement.
A statement from the U.S. 7th Fleet, which has operational command of all U.S. naval forces in the region, said the flight demonstrated Washington’s “commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific.”
On Friday, a Chinese fighter jet flew within 500 feet of the same aircraft as it patrolled the South China Sea. A U.S. Navy officer told NBC News journalists on board that such encounters, while professional in nature, were becoming more frequent.
Eric Baculinao, Dawn Liu and Murphy Zhao contributed.