China criticizes sanctions against Russia as ineffective and warns of wider damage.
China on Wednesday criticized the expansion of economic sanctions against Russia, saying that they were unlikely to solve the Ukraine crisis and that they had the potential to harm average people as well as the interests of Beijing.
“The position of the Chinese government is that we believe that sanctions have never been a fundamental and effective way to solve problems, and China always opposes any illegal unilateral sanctions,” Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for China’s foreign ministry, said at a regular press briefing on Wednesday.
“Since 2011, the United States has imposed sanctions on Russia more than 100 times, but we can all think about it calmly,” she added. “Have U.S. sanctions solved the problem?”
Russia has cultivated close ties with China, a neighbor whose huge domestic economy offers a potential bulwark against Western sanctions. Xi Jinping, the Chinese leader, met with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia at the Olympic Games in Beijing this month, and they declared in a joint statement that their friendship had “no limits.”
Still, China offered an equivocal response to Mr. Putin’s moves against Ukraine this week, neither criticizing nor endorsing his decision to recognize two separatist enclaves and order the deployment of troops.
But on the question of sanctions, China was sharply critical, warning against moves that could have wider effects. “When handling the Ukraine issue and relations with Russia,” Ms. Hua said, “the U.S. must not harm the legitimate rights and interests of China and other parties.”
Claire Fu contributed research.