U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday told his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi about the "global security and economic risks" of a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine, but they apparently fell short of reaching an agreement on the issue.
The phone call took place as U.S.-Russia tensions are running high over Moscow's massive military buildup on the Ukrainian border, while President Vladimir Putin has demanded the North Atlantic Treaty Organization pull back troops and weapons from Eastern Europe.
Washington has warned Moscow of severe economic and financial sanctions should Russia choose to invade and called on it to de-escalate tensions. Meanwhile, China has asked the United States to respect the security fears of the world's largest country by area.
According to the U.S. State Department, Blinken told Wang of the global "risks" posed by further Russian aggression against Ukraine and conveyed that "de-escalation and diplomacy are the responsible way forward."
Wang was quoted by the Chinese Foreign Ministry as telling Blinken, "Russia's legitimate security concerns should be paid attention to and resolved," underscoring that Beijing has supported Moscow's position.
All parties should remain calm and should not do anything to stimulate tensions and exaggerate the crisis, Wang was also quoted by the ministry as saying.
China and Russia's predecessor state, the Soviet Union, were competitors during the Cold War. They were at odds over interpretations and practical applications of Marxism-Leninism, the ideology of 20th-century communism.
The two nations, however, have been deepening their cooperation of late while their relations with the United States have deteriorated.
On the back of an improvement in ties between China and Russia, Putin has voiced willingness to attend the Feb. 4 opening ceremony of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, which Chinese President Xi Jinping has been keen to successfully host to enhance national prestige.
Wang told Blinken that the United States should "stop disrupting" the Olympics, as the administration of President Joe Biden has pledged to stage a "diplomatic boycott," meaning Washington will not send its government officials to the global sporting event.
The boycott, which would not affect the participation of U.S. athletes, is a response to China's alleged human rights abuses against Uyghur Muslims in its far-western Xinjiang region that Washington has labeled as "genocide."
As for Taiwan, Wang told Blinken that the United States should "stop playing with fire" on the issue. The Communist-led government has expressed eagerness to reunify self-ruled democratic Taiwan with the mainland, by force if necessary.
China and Taiwan have been governed separately since they split in 1949 as a result of a civil war. Relations have worsened since independence-leaning Tsai Ing-wen became Taiwan's president in 2016. The mainland considers the island as a renegade province.
The United States switched its diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979. But it maintains substantive though unofficial exchanges with the island and supplies it with billions of dollars worth of arms and spare parts for its defense.
Also during the conversation, Blinken and Wang exchanged views on how to advance bilateral cooperation following Biden's virtual meeting with Xi in November, including in managing strategic risk and areas such as climate change, according to the State Department.