President Joe Biden and Chinese president Xi Jinping are scheduled to hold a phone call on Friday regarding the situation in Ukraine and China’s position with regard to Russia, according to the White House.
A statement released by White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that the call was “part of our ongoing efforts to maintain open lines of communication between the United States and the PRC,” using the acronym for China’s official name, the People’s Republic of China.
“The two Leaders will discuss managing the competition between our two countries as well as Russia’s war against Ukraine and other issues of mutual concern,” the statement read.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said during a press conference on Thursday that Biden and Xi’s main topic of discussion would be the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine. Although Russia has captured territory in Ukraine’s north, south, and east, its advance has stalled amid massive logistical problems and fierce Ukrainian resistance. According to U.S. estimates, as many as 7,000 Russian soldiers have lost their lives in the three-week conflict. Ukraine’s defense ministry has claimed more than 13,800 Russian soldiers have been killed.
As Russian losses have increased, international observers have accused the invading army of intentionally targeting civilian areas, a war crime under the Geneva Convention. The International Criminal Court (ICC) has opened an investigation for war crimes in Ukraine, while the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordered Russia to withdraw its armed forces from the country. However, the order cannot be legally enforced, as the ICJ reports to the UN Security Council, where Russia holds veto power.
As much of the Western world has provided financial and material support to Ukraine, China has remained officially neutral in the conflict. The Chinese government and state-aligned media have accused the West, and particularly the United States, of attempting to foment conflict in Eastern Europe for its own ends and has refused to participate in international sanctions of Russia. At the same time, Beijing has categorically denied reports that it would aid the Russian military in Ukraine by supplying it with food and combat equipment.
Blinken said in his remarks that Biden would encourage Xi not to alter this position in favor of Russia.
“President Biden … will make clear that China will bear responsibility for any actions it takes to support Russia’s aggression and we will not hesitate to impose costs,” Blinken said.
Trevor Filseth is a current and foreign affairs writer for the National Interest.