China has reiterated its opposition to the use of illegal and unilateral sanctions against Russia in the wake of a Western move to block a certain number of Russian banks from the SWIFT interbank system amid the conflict in Ukraine.
Speaking at a regular daily news briefing in Beijing on Monday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said Beijing was against using sanctions without an international mandate.
“We are against using sanctions to resolve problems, even more so against unilateral sanctions without international mandate. China and Russia will continue regular trade cooperation based on the spirit of mutual respect and equality, equality and mutual benefit.”
China is Russia’s biggest trading partner. The countries earlier this month signed a wide-ranging strategic partnership aimed at countering US influence.
Wang also brushed off a call from the White House on Sunday for China to condemn Russia’s operation against Ukraine. Instead, it has called for Russia's "reasonable" security demands to be heard.
China has already said the United States was not qualified to tell the Asian country how to respect state sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Elsewhere in his remarks on Monday, Wang urged both sides of the conflict to "remain calm and exercise restraint to prevent further escalation of the situation."
"China pays close attention to changes in the Ukraine situation and supports all efforts to de-escalate the situation and resolve it politically," Wang said.
As Western governments mustered more support for sanctions against Moscow, diplomatic maneuvering continued to end the conflict by offering to "facilitate dialogue" between Russia and Ukraine.
Belarus says it has prepared a venue to host talks between Ukrainian and Russian delegations. Kiev agreed to send diplomats to a location near the Ukraine-Belarus border as fighting expanded to more areas on the fifth day of Russia’s military operation in Ukraine.
NATO has escalated its war of words against Russia since February 24, when President Vladimir Putin announced a “special military operation” aimed at “demilitarization” of the Donetsk and Lugansk Republics in eastern Ukraine. More than 14,000 people have been killed so far across the regions as a result of the conflict that ensued between the Ukrainian military and the pro-Russian separatists.
Announcing the operation, Putin said the mission was aimed at “defending people who for eight years are suffering persecution and genocide by the Kiev regime.”
Senior Russian officials have called Moscow's actions in Ukraine a special operation aimed at defending Russia from those Western forces trying to use Ukraine as a tool to mount military threats.
Meanwhile, Central Bank Governor Elvira Nabiullina said on Monday Russia has a system that can replace SWIFT internally. Nabiullina said all banks in Russia will fulfill their obligations and all funds on their accounts are secured.