Beijing denies US intelligence claims that it is planning to arm Russia
Beijing on Monday tore into the US for what it dismissed as "false" claims that China is considering providing arms and ammunition to Russia in its war against Ukraine.
"It is the United States and not China that is endlessly shipping weapons to the battlefield," said Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin at his regular press briefing on Monday.
He added: "We will never accept the US pointing fingers at Sino-Russian relations or even coercing us."
Secretary of state Antony Blinken over the weekend said that American intelligence suggested Beijing is considering "providing lethal support" to Moscow even as China was positioning itself as a peace broker in the war.
"We’ve been watching this very, very closely,” Mr Blinken told CBS in an interview that aired Sunday, a day after his meeting with Wang Yi, the Chinese Communist Party’s most senior foreign policy official.
"It was important for me to share very clearly with Wang Yi that this [arming Russia] would be a serious problem,” Mr Blinken added.
Beijing’s strong retort coincided with Wang Yi's arrival in Moscow, where he will hold talks over a possible peace plan ahead of the one-year anniversary of Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine.
And this visit was mirrored by a surprise trip to Kyiv for US president Joe Biden, who was welcomed to the Ukrainian capital by Volodymyr Zelensky on Monday morning for his first visit to the war-torn country since the invasion.
China's foreign ministry said the US was in no position to "make demands", adding that its partnership with Moscow was "based on the basis of non-alignment, non-confrontation and non-targeting of third parties, and is a matter within the sovereignty of two independent countries."
The spokesperson was referring to the "no limits" partnership struck between Beijing and Moscow just weeks prior to the Ukraine invasion.
There have been concerns over Moscow's growing closeness with Beijing even as China maintains that is only "urging peace and promoting dialogue".
Last week at the annual Munich Security Conference, the top Chinese diplomat accused Washington of violating international norms with "hysterical" behaviour, a reference to the row between the two countries over a stray Chinese balloon.
He also said there were "some forces that seemingly don't want negotiations to succeed, or for the war to end soon", without naming anyone.
The diplomat reiterated China's stance on "peace and dialogue" to Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba in Munich on the sidelines of the conference on Sunday.
"We do not want to see the crisis in Ukraine prolonged and expanded, and are willing to work with the international community to avoid further deterioration of the situation and persistently strive for peace," Mr Wang said.