According to US media reports, the US believes China would face harsh “consequences” if it assists Russia in its invasion of Ukraine.
Unnamed officials allegedly told various US news sites that once the invasion began, Russia requested military aid from China.
The Chinese embassy in Washington stated that they were unaware of the request.
The warning comes ahead of a meeting between top US and Chinese officials in Rome on Monday.
Beijing has offered strong rhetorical support for long-time partner Moscow since the crisis began, but no military or economic assistance has been openly disclosed.
Local media sites, citing US authorities, claim that Russia has approached China for military equipment, including drones, in recent days. The answer of China to such request is unknown.
In a CNN interview, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan stated the US was “communicating directly, privately to Beijing that large-scale sanctions evasion attempts or support to Russia to backfill them would undoubtedly have consequences.”
“We will not allow that to happen, and we will not allow any government, anywhere in the globe, to provide a lifeline to Russia through economic sanctions.”
He went on to say that while the US felt China knew Russian President Vladimir Putin was “planning something” before the attack, Beijing “may not have recognized the full nature of it.”
Mr Sullivan stated, “Because it’s quite probable that [Mr] Putin lied to them in the same manner that he lied to Europeans and others.”
On Monday in Rome, Mr Sullivan will meet Yang Jiechi, the head of China’s Central Foreign Affairs Commission and a member of China’s highest decision-making body, the Politburo.
According to Reuters, Mr. Sullivan would lay out the dangers and isolation that China would suffer if it extended its support for Russia at the discussion.
A spokeswoman for China’s embassy in Washington, D.C., Liu Pengyu, told US media that he was unaware of Russia’s request. “The top objective right now is to keep the uncomfortable situation from escalating or possibly going out of hand,” he continued.
So far, China has refrained from denouncing Russia’s incursion, instead stating that Moscow’s “legitimate security concerns” should be treated seriously.
In recent days, Chinese state media and government officials have been repeating Russian misinformation claims about the conflict, in addition to supporting Russia’s official statement that it is a “special military operation” and not an invasion.
At the same time, Beijing has stated its “unwavering support” for Ukraine’s sovereignty. It has also called for peace and stated that it is willing to assist in the diplomatic resolution of the conflict. Several nations have requested China to do more to prevent Russia from invading their country.