BEIJING — China’s foreign minister on Friday said the country would not sell weapons to parties involved in the conflict in Ukraine and would regulate the export of items with dual civilian and military use.
Qin Gang was responding to concerns from the U.S. and others that China was considering providing military assistance to Russia, which Beijing has backed politically and rhetorically in the conflict while formally saying it remains neutral.
Qin reiterated China’s willingness to help facilitate negotiations to find a peaceful resolution to the conflict and said all parties should remain “objective and calm.”
Speaking at a news conference with his visiting German counterpart Annalena Baerbock, Qin also blamed Taiwan’s government for heightened regional tensions after Beijing held large-scale military drills in an attempt to intimidate the island it claims as its own territory.
On both Ukraine and Taiwan, Qin articulated well-worn defenses of Chinese policies that underscore Beijing’s rejection of criticisms from the West, particularly the U.S. Under ardently nationalist leader Xi Jinping, China has been sharpening its rhetoric, particularly on the issue of Taiwan, which split from mainland China amid civil war in 1949.
“Regarding the export of military items, China adopts a prudent and responsible attitude,” Qin said.
“China will not provide weapons to relevant parties of the conflict, and manage and control the exports of dual-use items in accordance with laws and regulations,” he added.
In her remarks, Baerbock said that as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, China bore a special responsibility for helping end the conflict.
She also referred to tensions in the Taiwan Strait, through which much of the world’s international trade passes, and said a conflict in the area would be a global disaster.
China’s ruling Communist Party sent warships and fighter planes near Taiwan last weekend in retaliation for a meeting between U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and the island’s president, Tsai Ing-wen.
China insists that self-governing Taiwan submit to its rule, either peacefully or by force, and Qin said the pursuit of independence by Taiwan’s government and its foreign supporters — a veiled reference to chief ally the United States — were the reason for the tensions.
Apparently rejecting Baerbock’s concerns, Qin said Taiwan was “China’s internal affair and bore no outside interference.”
“Taiwan independence and peace can not co-exist,” he said.
While Germany has strongly backed Ukraine’s resistance to Russia’s invasion, Beijing has blamed the U.S. and NATO for provoking the conflict, refused to criticize Moscow’s actions and criticized economic sanctions against President Vladimir Putin’s regime.
“Territory is indivisible, and security is equally indivisible,” Qin said. “Without recognition of the security interests of a particular party, crises and conflicts are inevitable.”
“China is willing to continue to work for peace, and hopes that all parties involved in the crisis will remain objective and calm, and make constructive efforts to resolve the crisis through negotiations,” he added.