- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 23, 2023

It was reported Thursday the Biden administration is dithering on whether to release intelligence showing China is considering sending lethal aid to support Russia’s war in Ukraine.

What would be the ramifications be if China decided to do so? “Serious consequences” for the U.S.-China relationship, Secretary of State Antony Blinken explained Sunday on “Face the Nation.”

How scary.

In January 2022, Mr. Blinken warned of “massive consequences” if Russia invaded Ukraine. Speaking at a press conference in Berlin at the time, Mr. Blinken said the Biden administration’s aim was to seek a diplomatic path to de-escalate tensions with Russia.

Diplomacy didn’t work with the Russians, nor will it with the Chinese. At some point, the Biden administration will have to draw some red lines and back them up with action. Deterrence is the only path forward, yet the Biden administration seems intent on pursuing its failed diplomatic-charm offensive, which has only emboldened our worst adversaries.

In June 2021, before Mr. Biden’s first face-to-face meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Biden administration lifted sanctions on Russia’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to Germany without getting anything in return. Mr. Biden also renewed the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with Russia without getting concessions from the Kremlin on inspections (Russia had been violating the treaty for years, and Mr. Putin made it official policy this week, “suspending” his country’s compliance).

That year, as Russia was building up the biggest force it had amassed on the Ukrainian border since its annexation of Crimea in 2014, the Biden administration decided to freeze a military weapons package to Ukraine, trying not to inflame tensions with Mr. Putin.

U.S. military aid to Ukraine has been slow-walked ever since Russia’s invasion in February 2022. Today, the international sanctions leveled against Russia by the Biden administration to “hold them accountable” seem to be having no effect on Mr. Putin’s desire to take back territory he believes is rightfully Russia’s.

Now, the Biden administration is playing the same weak diplomacy game with China.

This month, the Chinese invaded U.S. airspace. They flew a spy balloon over the continental U.S., traversing multiple nuclear-weapon installations and collecting intelligence before it was shot down over the Atlantic Ocean.

“As I’ve said since the beginning of my administration, we seek competition, not conflict, with China,” Mr. Biden said on Feb. 16 of the incident. “We’re not looking for a new Cold War, but I make no apologies, and we will compete. We will responsibly manage that competition.”

But will China?

After the balloon’s presence was made public (not by the Biden administration, but by the Billings Gazette, which first spotted and published pictures of the aircraft), China’s defense chief refused to take a phone call from Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III. White House officials have been mum on when a call between Mr. Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping may take place.

At the Munich Security Conference last weekend, Mr. Blinken begged his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi for a sit-down. What he got was a slap-down.

Mr. Wang refused to apologize for the balloon incident, and chastised Mr. Blinken for shooting it down. He then accused the U.S. of flying high-altitude balloons illegally over China (something U.S. officials have denied).

When Mr. Wang took the stage publicly, he called the U.S. reaction to the balloon “absurd and hysterical” and an abuse of force. He was also belligerent in China’s intentions for Taiwan. “Let me assure the audience that Taiwan is a part of Chinese territory. It has never been a country, and it will never be a country in the future,” he said.

In the days since the conference, Mr. Putin announced Mr. Xi will be visiting his country to discuss their “limitless partnership.”

In terms of lethal support to Russia, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Wang Wenbin, didn’t respond directly, but did point fingers back.

“It’s the U.S. side, not the Chinese side, that’s providing an endless flow of weapons. The U.S. side isn’t qualified to point fingers at China or order China around,” he said Monday.

China has, in fact, been providing much material and financial support to Russia throughout the war.

According to a Wall Street Journal report, China is already providing technology that Moscow needs, despite sanctions and export controls.

“The customs records show Chinese state-owned defense companies providing goods that have civilian and military uses, shipping navigation equipment, jamming technology and jet-fighter parts to sanctioned Russian government-owned defense companies,” the Journal detailed. It’s also providing them with drones.

Last year, trade between the two countries increased by 25% from 2021, Mr. Putin said in December, with overall trade between Russia and China expected to reach $200 billion by 2024. Beijing has bought Russian oil and gas, as Russia has increased its use of China’s currency, the yuan. Last year, China was the largest buyer of Russian agricultural and food products.

So what is the Biden administration going to do about it? Release intelligence that proves what the world already knows so that China should somehow be embarrassed? Address the U.N. and beg Russia to end its war and for China to stay out of it? Pass a toothless resolution in the General Assembly in the hope that Mr. Putin and Mr. Xi will take heed?

It seems like all of the above.

Mr. Biden is weak, and the world’s most ruthless dictators know it. Who can predict what they’ll do next.

• Kelly Sadler is the commentary editor at The Washington Times.

Copyright © 2023 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide

Sponsored Stories