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Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) and Chinese President Xi Jinping pose for a photograph during their meeting in Beijing on Feb. 4, 2022.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) and Chinese President Xi Jinping pose for a photograph during their meeting in Beijing on Feb. 4, 2022. (Alexei Druzhinin, Sputnik, AFP via Getty Images/TNS)

WASHINGTON (Tribune News Service) — China’s top envoy to Washington pledged his country “will do everything” to de-escalate the war in Ukraine and said its relationship with Russia is “not part of the problem.”

Ambassador Qin Gang’s comments follow U.S. President Joe Biden’s warning to Chinese President Xi Jinping of “implications and consequences” should China support Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Xi assured Biden that his country didn’t want the war, according to Chinese readouts of the video call on Friday.

“There’s disinformation about China providing military assistance to Russia,” Qin said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday. China isn’t sending “weapons and ammunitions to any party,” he said. “We will do everything to disescalate the crisis.”

It’s the latest evidence of China’s efforts to balance its relationships with the U.S. and Russia as the Biden administration seeks to step up international pressure on President Vladimir Putin to end the war in Ukraine.

While China has “a lot of common interests” with Russia, that “is not a liability,” Qin said. “China is part of the solution, it’s not part of the problem.” He cited Xi’s phone call with Putin shortly after the Russian invasion in February during which China said its leader urged Putin to negotiate with Ukraine.

Asked whether China would condemn the Russian invasion, Qin said, “Don’t be naive, condemnation doesn’t solve the problem. I would be surprised if Russia will back down by condemnation.” Instead, China will continue to urge peace talks, he said.

The conversation between Xi and Biden was “candid, deep and constructive,” Qin said. Earlier, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield described the call as “extraordinarily frank.”

“And we made our position clear to the Chinese,” she said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday. “They’re in an uncomfortable position.”

©2022 Bloomberg L.P.

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