China denies arming Russia as U.S. accuses Beijing of ‘sustained’ Ukraine support

A Chinese spokesperson said, while referring to remarks by Defence Minister Dong Jun during a meeting with U.S. Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin in Singapore, that they were honored not to provide weapons to either side of the conflict.

China has forcefully pushed back against U.S. accusations that it is providing comprehensive military assistance to Russia for its war in Ukraine, insisting it remains neutral and does not supply weapons to either side.

A Chinese spokesperson said, while referring to remarks by Defence Minister Dong Jun during a meeting with U.S. Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin in Singapore, that they were honoured not to provide weapons to either side of the conflict.

The denial comes amid escalating U.S. claims that China is covertly furnishing Russia with munitions and other backing as Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine grinds on. Speaking in Brussels this week, Deputy Secretary of State Kurt Campbell accused Beijing of waging a sustained, comprehensive effort to support Russia that is designed to give Russia every support behind the scenes.

The war of words highlights rising tensions between Washington and Beijing over China’s stance toward the Ukraine conflict. While officially declaring itself impartial, China has deepened strategic ties with Moscow, with President Xi Jinping hosting Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin for a high-profile summit earlier in May.

The U.S. and allies like the UK have accused China of considering lethal aid shipments to Russia. Britain claimed to uncover intelligence of significant Chinese lethal assistance already flowing, though no evidence has been made public.

For its part, China has repeatedly denied any transfer of arms and pushed for peace talks – even as it avoids criticizing Russia’s invasion outright. Beijing has also amplified Russian disinformation narratives about U.S. bioweapons labs in Ukraine.

With no end in sight to the conflict, the war of words between the U.S. and China seems likely to intensify, threatening a potential new front in the growing great power rivalry between Washington and Beijing.