China endorsed remarks made by its ambassador to Ukraine on Thursday after the Chinese diplomat pledged Beijing’s political and economic support for the war-torn country.
“China absolutely supports the remarks made by the ambassador,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian at a regular press briefing.
“China supports all efforts that are conducive to easing the situation in Ukraine and a political settlement. [China] is ready to do its part to overcome the humanitarian crisis,” he added.
But in a sign of Beijing’s possible attempt to play both sides, Zhao declined to say if Beijing’s support for its ambassador’s remarks means China will not offer weapons or other assistance to Russia to support the military invasion in Ukraine.
“That’s your own interpretation,” he said, responding to a reporter’s question on the topic. “China has made repeated statements. There is no reason for you to make such a connection.”
Fan Xianrong, the Chinese ambassador to Ukraine, pledged Beijing’s support and praised the Ukrainian people in a meeting in Lviv on Monday, according to a press release from the regional government.
“China will always be a force of good for Ukraine both economically and politically,” Fan was quoted as saying to Maksym Kozytsky, the head of the regional administration in Lviv. “China will never attack Ukraine. We will help, especially economically.”
“In this situation, which you have now, we will act responsibly. We have seen how great the unity of the Ukrainian people is, and that means its strength,” he continued, adding that the Chinese embassy had moved from Kyiv to Lviv and would remain there for the time being.
As of Thursday afternoon, Fan’s remarks had not been reported by China’s state media, which has largely been parroting the Kremlin’s talking points since the Russian invasion began.
On Tuesday, China’s ambassador to the US Qin Gang published an op-ed in the Washington Post reiterating that Beijing wanted to see an end to the conflict in Ukraine and dispelling “rumors” that “China knew about, acquiesced to or tacitly supported” the war.
“Conflict between Russia and Ukraine does no good for China. Had China known about the imminent crisis, we would have tried our best to prevent it,” Qin wrote.
His comments followed assertions from US intelligence officials that Russia had asked China for military support in Ukraine. Beijing and Moscow have both denied the claims.