WH Urged to Brief House Intel Committee on Biden-Xi Call Amid Ukraine Crisis
© MANDEL NGANUS President Joe Biden meets with China's President Xi Jinping during a virtual summit from the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, DC, November 15, 2021.
© MANDEL NGAN
Earlier this month, Beijing urged Washington to leave China out of the US-Russia disagreements over the Ukraine crisis, pledging that China would continue to pursue normal trade and economic cooperation with Russia based on mutual respect, equality, and benefit.
Mike Turner, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, has called for a classified briefing on last week’s online conversation between US President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, which took place amid Russia’s ongoing special military operation in Ukraine.
Speaking to Fox News, Turner said that the committee “has not been briefed on it and this is certainly relevant” for the panel “to understand both what the [US] president laid out to China, and what President Xi’s responses were on if China should assist Russia militarily”.
“There should be absolute consequences to China. China has made statements that they do not want to be in a conflict with [the] Ukrainians, but arming Russia would have them enter that”, the GOP member argued.
He asserted that those from the House Intelligence Committee "have no transcript of the [Biden-Xi video] call" and "have no information as to what even were the elements of what Biden intended to say would be the consequences to China”.
Turner said that “those are very important details that we [the committee] need to be brought up to speed on”.
The Fox News interview was preceded by the Republican formally requesting a briefing from White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, claiming that the Biden-Xi video call “contained critical information relevant to the future of US-China relations and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine”.
“I am certainly very concerned that perhaps he has portrayed weakness again with China as he has with Russia. And that can result in greater escalation”, Turner added.
He spoke as the White House pointed out that the conversation between Biden and Xi “focused on Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine”, with POTUS outlining Washington’s views as well as those of its “allies and partners on this crisis”.
“President Biden detailed our [US] efforts to prevent and then respond to the invasion, including by imposing costs on Russia. He described the implications and consequences if China provides material support to Russia as it conducts brutal attacks against Ukrainian cities and civilians”, the White House argued.
Commenting on the conversation, the Chinese Foreign Ministry, for its part, said that President Xi underscored the "severe challenges" across the globe during the video call. The ministry added that “the Ukraine crisis is something we [China] don't want to see”, and that “relevant events once again show that state-to-state relations cannot go to the point of confrontation”.
“Conflict and confrontation are not in anyone's interests. Peace and security are the most treasured treasures of the international community”, the ministry stressed.
This came after Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian commented on Washington's threats to take action in the event of Chinese support for Russia by underscoring that Beijing adheres to an independent position on the Ukrainian crisis.
"Regarding the Ukrainian issue, China has always made independent judgments based on the merits of the case in an objective and fair manner", Zhao told reporters shortly before the beginning of the Biden-Xi video call. He added that some people in the US continue to spread false information, slander, and pressure China, saying it is extremely irresponsible behaviour that does not help resolve the Ukraine crisis.
Russia's Special Op in Ukraine Underway
The Russian special military operation to demilitarise and "de-Nazify" Ukraine was ordered by President Vladimir Putin on 24 February, following calls for help from the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics to counter intensifying shelling by Ukrainian troops.
The Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD), in turn, underscored that the special operation is only targeting Ukrainian military infrastructure with high-precision weapons and that the civilian population is not in danger. Moscow has repeatedly stressed that it has no plans to occupy Ukraine.
During the 25 March big press briefing, the MoD confirmed that the Russian military’s high-precision strikes are “selectively and accurately destroying objects of Ukraine’s military infrastructure, its military hardware and weapons, as well ammunition depots and material property of the troops”.
“From the first days of the operation, special attention is being paid to preserving civilian infrastructure and civilian population in in Ukraine”, the MoD stressed.
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