Kremlin warns US against ‘provocative’ moves toward China

MOSCOW (AP) — The Kremlin on Friday offered strong support to China amid the tensions over Taiwan, warning the United States against any “provocative” moves that could exacerbate the situation.

Chinese President Xi Jinping warned against meddling in China’s dealings with Taiwan during a phone call Thursday with U.S. President Joe Biden,

Speaking in a call with reporters, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Russia staunchly supports China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

“We believe that no other country has the right to call (that) into doubt or take any provocative steps,” Peskov said.

He warned the U.S. against “destructive” moves, adding that “such behavior on the international arena could only exacerbate tensions as the world is already overloaded with regional and global problems.”

The tough statement reflects close ties between Moscow and Beijing, which have grown stronger since Russia sent its troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24. China has refused to criticize Russia’s action, blaming the U.S. and NATO for provoking Moscow, and has blasted punishing sanctions imposed on Moscow.

The Chinese government gave no indication Xi and Biden discussed possible plans by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to visit Taiwan, which the ruling Communist Party says has no right to conduct foreign relations. But Xi rejected “interference by external forces” that might encourage Taiwan to try to make its decades-old de facto independence permanent.

“Resolutely safeguarding China’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity is the firm will of the more than 1.4 billion Chinese people,” foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said Friday. “Those who play with fire will perish by it.”

The tough language from Xi, who usually tries to appear to be above political disputes and makes blandly positive public comments, suggested Chinese leaders might believe Washington didn’t understand the seriousness of previous warnings about Taiwan.

Taiwan and China split in 1949 following a civil war that ended with a communist victory on the mainland. They have no official relations but are linked by billions of dollars of trade and investment. Both sides say they are one country but disagree over which government is entitled to national leadership.

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