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US warns China of ‘severe’ consequences for helping Russia

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen discusses the "US-China Economic Relationship," during a forum hosted by the Johns Hopkins University at the Nitze Building in Washington, US, April 20, 2023. (Reuters photo)

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen says Washington seeks "constructive and fair" economic ties with China, while warning that the consequences would be "severe" if Beijing provided any material support or assistance to Russia in violation of US sanctions.

Speaking at Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies, Yellen on Thursday listed the Biden administration's principal objectives for what she called an "essential" economic relationship between the world's two largest economies, Reuters reported.

"Our relationship is clearly at a tense moment," said Yellen, who has said she still plans to visit Beijing to meet with her new Chinese economic counterparts. "My goal is to be clear and honest, to cut through the noise and speak to this essential relationship, based on sober realities."

Yellen claimed the United States remained the world's largest and most dynamic economy, leading in areas ranging from wealth to technological innovation.

She added that she believed a growing China was in the interest of both countries, as long as it followed global rules.

“A growing China that plays by international rules is good for the United States and the world,” Yellen said. “Both countries can benefit from healthy competition in the economic sphere. But healthy economic competition — where both sides benefit — is only sustainable if that competition is fair.”

At the same time, “safeguarding certain technologies from the PRC’s military and security apparatus is of vital national interest,” said the former Federal Reserve chief.

“We will secure our national security interests and those of our allies and partners, and we will protect human rights,” Yellen said. “We will clearly communicate to the PRC our concerns about its behavior.”

“We seek a healthy economic relationship with China: one that fosters growth and innovation in both countries,” Yellen said.

She called China's "no limits" partnership with Russia "a worrisome indication” and claimed that Beijing is not serious" about ending Russia's war against Ukraine.

"It is essential that China and other countries do not provide Russia with material support or assistance with sanctions evasion," she said, warning that the consequences of any violations would be "severe."

Tensions between Beijing and Washington are high, strained by the pandemic, the economy and other issues.

China has rejected US assertions and said the US is fueling the conflict in Ukraine by sending weapons worth billions of dollars to Kiev.

“The US has no right to dictate China-Russia relations, and we will never accept coercion and pressure from the US,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning told journalists.

China says it is ready to boost cooperation with the Russian military in order to jointly uphold international justice, peace and security.

Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Tan Kefei said China is a “builder of world peace” and a “contributor to global development.”

In contrast, he said the US uses its mammoth defense budget – which is the highest in the world – to “wage wars and create turmoil everywhere,” thus making it “the biggest threat to world peace, security and stability.”

President Xi Jinping of China and Russian President Vladimir Putin held a summit in Moscow last month.

China and Russia have agreed to expand trade, energy and political relations amid the West’s increasingly adversarial approach over the war in Ukraine.

Washington has become more vigilant about the relations between Beijing and Moscow ever since President Xi and Putin struck a “no limits” partnership in February 2022.

China has blamed the United States and NATO for “provoking” Moscow over the Ukraine war and has condemned Western sanctions against Russia.

Russia has also strongly backed China amid the recent tensions between Beijing and Washington over the US political and military interference in Taiwan.

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