China opposes Russia sanctions, calls US actions 'immoral'

China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying contrasted the actions of the US with those of China, which she said were more constructive. PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (BLOOMBERG) - China expressed opposition to sanctions against Russia and criticised the United States for inflaming the Ukraine crisis, suggesting America's support for North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) expansion had left President Vladimir Putin with few options.

Beijing didn't view sanctions as "the best way to solve problems", Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying said Wednesday (Feb 23) at a regular press briefing in Beijing.

She also criticised the US and (Nato) for placing offensive weapons near Russia, asking whether "they ever thought about the consequences of cornering a major power".

Ms Hua called the US the "culprit" of the Ukraine situation, saying it was "adding oil to a burning house while pointing fingers at others trying to put out the fire".

"This act is irresponsible and immoral," she said of the US moves.

The crisis in Ukraine has forced China into a delicate balancing act as it seeks to support Russia against the US while also portraying itself as a responsible global power.

President Joe Biden has placed sanctions on Moscow for its actions over disputed Ukrainian territory, the latest hitting the builder of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline and its corporate leadership, and warned more could be coming.

Other US allies have also hit Russia with punitive economic measures.

China often rails against US sanctions, which have been placed on Beijing over issues like alleged human-rights abuses in the far western region of Xinjiang and moves to jail democracy activists in Hong Kong.

Ms Hua also contrasted the actions of the US with those of China, which she said were more constructive.

"Unlike the US which has been sending arms, escalating tensions and hyping up the possibility of war, China has been calling on all parties to respect and value each other's legitimate security concerns," said Ms Hua, who conducted the daily Foreign Ministry briefing for the first time since September.

"We have been making efforts to resolve the issue through negotiations and consultations to protect regional peace and stability," she added.

Ms Hua also downplayed comparisons between the crisis in Ukraine and Taiwan, which China claims as part of its territory.

"Taiwan is not Ukraine because Taiwan has never been a sovereign, independent state," she said.

"It has been an inalienable part of China."

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