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Biden urges China to not help Russia while Beijing reiterates international call for peace

"It wasn't about making asks, it wasn't about making assessments. It was about having an ongoing dialogue," Psaki describes.

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Nick Monroe Cleveland Ohio
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On Friday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki didn’t elaborate on the official talking points when it came to how successful an anticipated phone call between President Biden and China’s Xi Jinping ended up being.

The official position of the Biden administration is that they don’t want China to help out Russia. But all the while they’re leaving it up to Xi Jinping to make up his own mind.

In part the readout says:

"President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. spoke today with President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The conversation focused on Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. President Biden outlined the views of the United States and our Allies and partners on this crisis. President Biden detailed our 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 President underscored his support for a diplomatic resolution to the crisis. The two leaders also agreed on the importance of maintaining open lines of communication, to manage the competition between our two countries."

When it comes to direct communication from the administration about what was said on the call, that’s the closest the public will get. Beyond that we know that Biden’s phone call with China started at 9 am and lasted nearly two hours.

At the routine press briefing on Friday, the White House Press Secretary stuck to the written readout when faced with further questions from reporters.

When pressed by CNN’s Kaitlan Collins about whether or not Xi Jinping referred to Russia’s assault on Ukraine as an invasion, Psaki refused to answer on the grounds that she'd be speaking on behalf of another country.

The White House Press Secretary didn’t dispute the characterization by another reporter when they brought up how the China - US phone call had Biden simply laying out the implications of certain actions going forward, that the US President didn’t make any specific requests of Xi Jinping.

Instead, Psaki said China had the power to decide for themselves what the country is going to do when it comes to assisting Russia or not in their invasion of Ukraine.

Reporting by the AFP cites what the populace of China was told by their media about the phone call. Their public position is that the Russia - Ukraine war is "in no one's interest" and "state-to-state relations cannot go to the stage of military hostilities."

Xi said both China and the United States should "shoulder international responsibilities" for peace.

The closest to commentary about the war situation, quoting China’s Foreign Ministry, is that they believe "the US and NATO should also have dialogue with Russia to address the crux of the Ukraine crisis and ease security concerns of both Russia and Ukraine."

The close political ties between Russia’s Putin and China’s Jinping have been a backdrop of the Ukrainian invasion for the past several weeks. This opportunity has many experts saying the Beijing government is monitoring the international situation closely, to get a grasp of how the world would react if China made a move to take over Taiwan.

But as it currently stands as the war dragging on, according to Bloomberg, the expectations going into this phone call are that the Chinese government is moving closer to providing resources in support of the Kremlin.

However, Beijing officials have strongly disputed these claims within the past several days. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian accused the Biden administration of "creating and spreading false information" when it came to China’s stance on the Russian invasion.

Yet it’s this middle ground approach that has left the White House unsatisfied, in terms of understanding China’s position. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan had an in-person meeting with counterpart Yang Jiechi back on Monday to express US concerns about Chinese support of Putin through either military means or helping Russia get around the widespread sanctions the Kremlin now faces.

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