Joe Biden is due to make a phone call to Xi Jinping on Friday at a potential tipping point in China’s role in the world as it decides how far to go in backing Russia’s war on Ukraine. While China has abstained on United Nations security council resolutions on the invasion, it has sided with Moscow rhetorically, echoing Russian talking points blaming Nato, and recycling conspiracy theories, and the Biden administration believes it has already decided to bail Russia out economically.
At a meeting in Rome on Monday between the US national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, and his Chinese counterpart, Yang Jiechi, the Chinese delegation stunned US officials by echoing debunked Russian claims that the US and Ukraine had been pursuing a secret biological weapons programme together. The Americans came away from Rome more pessimistic than ever about Beijing intentions.
“There are lots of indications that the Chinese are doing more behind the scenes to support Russia, in every sector: financially, economically and militarily,” one official said. “And that’s deeply troubling. If they continue on this path, it will be a decisive turning point that will likely lead to much deeper anxiety in Europe about China and a more profound schism between Washington and Beijing.”