President Joe Biden and China’s Xi Jinping are set to speak on Friday as the White House warns Beijing that providing military or economic assistance for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will trigger severe consequences from Washington and beyond.
Planning for the call has been in the works since Biden and Xi held a virtual summit in November, but differences between Washington and Beijing over Russian President Vladimir Putin’s prosecution of his three-week-old war against Ukraine are expected to be at the center of the call.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden would question Xi about Beijing’s “rhetorical support” of Putin and an “absence of denunciation” of Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine.
“This is an opportunity to assess where President Xi stands,” Psaki said.
China on Friday again sought to highlight its calls for negotiations and donations of humanitarian aid, while accusing the U.S. of provoking Russia and fueling the conflict by shipping arms to Ukraine.
“China has called for every effort to avoid civilian casualties all the time,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian told reporters at a daily briefing. “Which do the civilians in Ukraine need more: food and sleeping bags or machine guns and artillery? It’s easy to answer.”