China calls NATO claims of backing Russia ‘disinformation’

By AFP

Beijing, China – Beijing on Thursday accused the NATO chief of “spreading disinformation” with claims that China has backed Russia’s war against Ukraine, amid growing international pressure to distance itself from Moscow.

China has refused to condemn close ally Russia over the bloody invasion of Ukraine and lagged behind many other countries in providing humanitarian aid to the war-stricken country.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg (picture) on Wednesday accused China of giving political backing to Russia as it invades Ukraine by “spreading blatant lies”, and warned Beijing against providing material support to Moscow’s war effort.

China must “live up to its responsibilities as a member of the UN Security Council, refrain from supporting Russia’s war effort, and join the rest of the world in calling for an immediate, peaceful end to this war,” he said.

But Beijing’s foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said that “accusing China of spreading false information about Ukraine is itself spreading disinformation”.

“China’s position is consistent with the wishes of most countries… any unwarranted accusations and suspicions against China will be defeated,” he said at a routine briefing Thursday. 

“We have always maintained that Ukraine should become a bridge between the East and West, rather than be in the frontline in a game between great powers.”

In one month, the war has created more than 3.6 million refugees and caused over 970 civilian deaths, according to UN figures, and provoked a barrage of international sanctions on Russia that have crippled its economy.

US officials have accused China of signalling its “willingness” to provide military and economic aid to Russia, and said they would be “watching very closely” to see if Beijing delivers weapons. 

“China has provided Russia with political support, including by spreading blatant lies and misinformation, and allies are concerned that China could provide material support for the Russian invasion,” Stoltenberg also said ahead of an urgent NATO summit on Thursday, where US President Joe Biden is expected to discuss Ukraine with allies. 

Beijing has said it is willing to play a role in ceasefire mediation efforts, but so far has not committed to holding peace talks.