U.S. sets red lines for China helping Russia dodge sanctions

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U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan speaks to the media about the war in Ukraine and other topics at the White House in Washington, U.S., March 22, 2022. REUTERS/Leah Millis

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ABOARD AIR FORCE ONE, March 23 (Reuters) - The Biden administration, seeking to deter China from aiding sanctions-hit Russia, on Wednesday warned Beijing not to take advantage of business opportunities created by sanctions, help Moscow evade export controls or process its banned financial transactions.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters that G7 countries would soon announce a unified response to make sure Russia cannot evade Western sanctions imposed over its invasion of Ukraine with the help of China or any other country.

Speaking aboard Air Force One en route to Brussels where President Joe Biden will attend an emergency NATO summit, Sullivan said, "That's not specifically about China, but it will apply to every significant economy and the decisions that any of those economies take to try, in an intentional and active way, to undermine or weaken the sanctions that we put in place."

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He said the U.S. government has conveyed this message to China and that, "We expect similar communication by European Union and individual European countries."

After Biden had a video call with Chinese President Xi Jinping last week, Beijing condemned the sanctions on Russia. It said "sweeping and indiscriminate sanctions would only make the people suffer" and should not be "further escalated."

U.S. export restrictions are intended to block Russian access to critical goods such as commercial electronics, computers and aircraft parts.

Washington is concerned that China could help Russia "backfill" and access these products by violating trade restrictions. The U.S. government has tools to ensure that can't happen, Sullivan added.

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo told Reuters on Wednesday that the United States would punish any companies that violate the export controls on goods like semiconductors. read more

In terms of payments, Sullivan said, the United States and its G7 allies will respond to "systematic efforts, industrial-scale efforts to try to reorient the settlement of financial payments."

China has not condemned Russia's action in Ukraine, though it has expressed deep concern about the war.

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Reporting by Jarrett Renshaw on aboard Afir Force One and Trevor Hunnicutt in Washington; Additional reporting by Alexandra Alper; Editing by Heather Timmons, Mary Milliken and Cynthia Osterman

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