NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters on Wednesday that China has lent its support to Russia by spreading “lies and misinformation” about the conflict in Ukraine.
Stoltenberg said that the alliance will call on China to stand against Russia but Beijing is unlikely to listen.“Beijing has joined Moscow in questioning the right of independent nations to choose their own path,” Stoltenberg told a press conference on Wednesday, ahead of a NATO summit in Brussels on Thursday. “China has provided Russia with political support, including by spreading blatant lies and misinformation,” Stoltenberg continued.
It is unclear which examples of “lies and misinformation” Stoltenberg was referring to, though China has joined Russia in condemning US-funded biological labs activity in Ukraine. US officials have denied claims that Ukrainian research labs were working on biological weapons, contradicting documents published by Russia. However, American officials did confirm the labs’ existence.
Beijing has refused to sanction Russia over its actions in Ukraine. The Chinese government has publicly affirmed Ukraine’s right to territorial integrity, but has highlighted NATO’s continued expansion into Eastern Europe as a key factor behind the current conflict.
Stoltenberg said that NATO leaders will “address the role of China” during Thursday’s conference, and will ask the Asian superpower to “live up to its responsibilities as a member of the UN Security Council” and “refrain from supporting Russia’s war effort and join the rest of the world in calling for an immediate, peaceful end to this war.”
China’s diplomats have already called for a negotiated settlement to the war, but are unlikely to join NATO in outright condemning Russia. Beijing has already rejected similar demands by Stoltenberg last week, citing NATO’s bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, Serbia in 1999 as one reason it won’t listen to a “lecture on justice from the abuser of international law.”
Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng declared last week that NATO could have averted war in Ukraine by pursuing a different path after the fall of the USSR. A simple “commitment of no eastward expansion could have easily ended the crisis and stopped the suffering,” he said, reiterating an argument made repeatedly by Moscow in recent years.
China, India, Pakistan, South Africa and 30 other countries abstained from a United Nations General Assembly resolution earlier this month condemning Russia’s offensive in Ukraine. Since opting for neutrality, some of these countries have come under pressure from the US to reverse their decision and back the West.