The US-China meeting in Rome

The summit between the United States and China in a hotel in Rome: on the table the question of the war in Ukraine and the news of an alleged request for help from Russia to Beijing

Rome has been the scene of the highest level of dialogue between Americans and Chinese since the war. The delegations met at Knights Hilton Waldorf Astoria in the Balduina district around noon.

Jake SullivanWhite House National Security Advisor face to face with Yang Jiechiin charge of foreign policy of the Communist Central Committee, is in fact a super-minister of foreign affairs of Beijing because being a member of the Politburo, rather than managing diplomacy as minister Wang Yi does, he helps to outline its strategy.

Sullivan has met Yang only twice in person: the first in March 2021 in Alaska and with insults shouted on live TV. Last October, in Switzerland, the two talked for six hours and they agreed to resume a more constructive dialogue, arranging a videoconference between Joe Biden and Xi Jinping which was then held in November.

According to rumors, the Americans wanted to receive the Chinese in the US embassy in Via Veneto, but Yang Jechi’s staff insisted on staying in the hotel.

Now the pair of political eggheads of the two superpowers called to keep bilateral US-China relations in a path full of traps, but also to avoid an escalation of the Ukrainian conflict.

Sullivan before leaving for Rome put the dossier of the Western sanctions on Russia, instructing Beijing not to give Putin any economic support to circumvent them.

The Chinese continue to call the sanctions illegal, but have so far made no visible moves to help the Russians resist. Just yesterday, for the first time, Moscow spoke explicitly of possible Chinese aidarguing that Western sanctions have blocked access to 300 of its $ 640 billion of gold and foreign currency reserves and observing: Some are in Chinese yuan, we see pressure on Beijing, but I think our relationship with China will not only endure, but will expand.

It is not just about financial help. Before Sullivan’s departure for Rome, Washington officials said Moscow would ask Beijing for military support. The anonymous sources who have informed New York Times and Washington Post they remained vague (so as not to reveal intelligence sources, they say). But we talk about drones for attacking ground targetsa genre in which the Chinese war industry is very busy and which has sold to some Middle Eastern countries (not all of them satisfied with their operations).

The Russian request started shortly after the offensive began, on February 24th.

only American disinformation with nefarious intent, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian commented this morning. He added that any false information slandering China’s efforts is irresponsible and immoral. Sanctions have never been an effective way to solve problems as the People’s Republic of China is playing a constructive role in promoting peace talks between Russia and Ukraine.

Experts point out that China has traditionally been a buyer of military technology from Russia rather than a supplier. Although in fact the People’s Liberation Army has recently developed quite advanced capabilities in the field of drones and missiles, which could revive the Russian offensive in Ukraine.

On February 24, to a direct question on the hypothesis of Chinese assistance to the Russian army (since Xi had promised Putin an unlimited alliance, in all fields, the foreign spokesman had entrenched himself behind a diplomatic response: Russia, a great power, even a military one, certainly does not need support not even from China for its operations.

American intelligence has so far not missed a blow on the Ukrainian crisis, warning that the invasion would take place and predicting its start date with sufficient precision. But perhaps now it is also being used for dissuasive political purposes: better to warn the Chinese that their eyes (and radar and spy satellites) are on target and watching every move. Sullivan says he does not want to make public threats: We communicate directly and privately with Beijing. Meanwhile, intelligence does its job.

It will take strong nerves to discuss and find a point of contact with Yang. It must be considered that Xi Jinping received Vladimir Putin on February 4, promising him unlimited partnerships. impossible that the Chinese leader had not taken into account the risk of Russian military action in Ukrainealthough he had probably deluded himself that it was limited and quick.

Now Xi can’t change sides with a sensational move, he needs time to reposition himself (as long as he really has an interest in doing it). Jake Sullivan also has an interview on his agenda at Palazzo Chigi with Luigi Mattiolo, diplomatic adviser to Prime Minister Mario Draghi.

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