Western leaders meeting in Brussels about Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine are expected to spend a significant amount of time talking about China.
U.S. security officials say they have yet to see any sign that Beijing is providing Moscow with military equipment or other aid to boost the Russian forces. But Western officials warn China’s refusal to condemn Russia’s invasion and its willingness to parrot Kremlin propaganda are cause for concern.
“We face a fundamentally changed security environment where authoritarian powers are increasingly prepared to use force to get their way,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters Wednesday, the day before a meeting of the alliance’s heads of state.
“Beijing has joined Moscow in questioning the right of independent nations to choose their own path,” he added. “So, I expect we will also address the role of China in this crisis.”
So far, China has sought to avoid political conflict over the war in Ukraine, saying it recognizes Ukraine’s sovereignty while also agreeing with Russia that NATO expansion has raised “legitimate security concerns.”
At the same time, analysts caution that China has used social media to echo the Kremlin’s talking points about the war.
Posts by Chinese officials and news outlets have “remained largely aligned with Russian messaging,” according to analysis by the Washington-based Alliance for Securing Democracy, which tracks online propaganda.