China has criticized Western sanctions on Russia and said it will not follow suit, calling the measures "never a fundamental and effective way to solve problems” and saying it "always opposes any illegal unilateral sanctions."
On Tuesday, President Joe Biden said the United States will sanction Russia's financial institutions and oligarchs after Russian leader Vladimir Putin ordered troops into separatist-held parts of eastern Ukraine. The United Kingdom, European Union, Canada, Australia and Japan also announced fresh sanctions on Russia.
When asked in the Foreign Ministry's daily briefing whether China would consider following suit, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying responded by telling the reporter, "You obviously lack a basic understanding of Chinese government policy."
"We believe that sanctions are never the fundamental and effective way to solve problems. China always opposes any illegal unilateral sanctions," Hua said, reiterating that the two parties should seek a resolution through dialogue and negotiation.
In her response, Hua also posed questions of what has been gained by previous US imposed sanctions on Russia, asking reporters: "Have they solved the problem? Is the world better off because of US sanctions? Will Ukraine's problems be resolved automatically by the imposition of US sanctions against Russia? Will Europe's security be more secure as a result of US sanctions against Russia? I think we should try to solve the problem through dialogue and negotiation."
She noted that previous sanctions imposed by the US "have caused serious difficulties to the economy and people's livelihood of the countries concerned," adding that on Ukraine, the US should "not undermine the legitimate rights and interests" of China and "other parties."
Currently, the US maintains sanctions on Russia that were imposed in response to its invasion of Ukraine in 2014. Other penalties have been imposed over issues including cyberattacks, election meddling, weapons proliferation and illicit trade with North Korea.
The Russia-China relationship: China is navigating a complex position as it attempts to balance a robust friendship with Russia with its practiced foreign policy of staunchly defending state sovereignty.
On Feb. 14, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said the embassy in Ukraine is “working normally” and continues to provide consular protection and assistance to Chinese citizens and enterprises in Ukraine.