Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he pressed his counterpart, Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi, to oppose Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine when they met at the G-20 summit in Bali on Friday.
Blinken told reporters after meeting with Wang for five hours that remaining neutral in the conflict, as China has declared itself, is a difficult position to have because there is a “clear” aggressor and victim.
“There is a clear challenge not only to the lives and livelihoods of people in Ukraine, but there is a challenge to the international order that China and the United States as permanent members of the Security Council are supposed to uphold,” he said.
But Blinken also cast doubt on the claim that the Chinese government remained neutral on the conflict, arguing that it is amplifying Russian propaganda and has continued to support Russia in the United Nations.
“But even if you accept that as a premise, I do not think that China is, in fact, engaging in a way that suggests neutrality,” he said.
China was one of 24 countries to vote against a United Nations resolution in April that suspended Russia from the Human Rights Council following the start of the invasion.
Blinken said Chinese President Xi Jinping told President Biden in a phone call last month that he stands by a partnership he made with Russian President Vladimir Putin in February. The two leaders affirmed a cordial relationship between their countries in announcing the agreement.
Blinken said he urged Wang that all countries need to stand up against Russia’s invasion, to demand that Russia allow other countries access to food supply from Ukraine and end the war.
He would not share how Wang responded.
Blinken also said they discussed the status of the relationship between China and the United States, North Korea’s nuclear program and possible areas for increased cooperation, including on climate, global health and food security.
He said he mentioned the country’s concerns around Chinese activity toward Taiwan, which has increased since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and issues in Hong Kong. He also voiced concerns about the treatment of the Uyghurs, a mostly Muslim minority, in the Xinjiang province.
“Now, none of these are easy topics, but the United States always seeks to be a consistent voice on human rights and fundamental freedoms, not to stand against China or any other country but to help advance peace, security, and human dignity,” Blinken said.