As the world scrutinizes the aggressive actions of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH) wants a classified briefing on the call last week between Chinese President Xi Jinping and President Joe Biden.
“Our committee has not been briefed on it and this is certainly relevant for our committee to understand both what the president laid out to China, and what President Xi’s responses were on if the China [sic] should assist Russia militarily,” the top Republican on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence told Fox News Thursday at the House Republican Issues Conference.
Also on Thursday, Turner penned a letter to National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan.
“On March 18, 2022, President Biden held a bilateral call with Chinese President Xi Jinping that lasted approximately two hours,” Turner wrote. “The White House indicated numerous topics of national security importance were discussed, including potential consequences that the United States would take if China provides support to Russia’s unjustified war in Ukraine.”
“This call contained critical information relevant to the future of U.S.-China relations and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine,” Turner continued. “I hereby request a classified briefing on the details of this call.”
Congressman Mike Turner (OH-10) Ranking Member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, requested a classified briefing on the March 18, 2022 call between President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping. pic.twitter.com/BD0kgfAyRG
— Mike Emanuel 🇺🇸 (@MikeEmanuelFox) March 24, 2022
“There should be absolute consequences to China,” Turner told Fox News. “China has made statements that they do not want to be in a conflict with Ukrainians, but arming Russia would have them enter that.”
In a press statement following the call in question, the White House stated the “conversation focused on Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.”
“President Biden outlined the views of the United States and our Allies and partners on this crisis,” the statement reads. “President Biden detailed our efforts to prevent and then respond to the invasion, including by imposing costs on Russia. He described the implications and consequences if China provides material support to Russia as it conducts brutal attacks against Ukrainian cities and civilians.”
But according to Turner, Intelligence Committee members “have no transcript of the call” and “have no information as to what even were the elements of what Biden intended to say would be the consequences to China.”
“Those are very important details that we need to be brought up to speed on,” Turner stated.
Turner noted that the Biden administration has “a record of weakness” when it comes to certain foreign leaders.
“I am certainly very concerned that perhaps he has portrayed weakness again with China as he has with Russia. And that can result in greater escalation,” Turner said.
Shortly after the video call, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs claimed in a statement that President Biden “reiterated” that the U.S. “does not support ‘Taiwan independence” and “it has no intention to seek a conflict with China.”
If true, it puts a different spin on the White House’s readout of the call.
In contrast, the White House said, “The President reiterated that U.S. policy on Taiwan has not changed, and emphasized that the United States continues to oppose any unilateral changes to the status quo.”
With respect to Ukraine, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, “President Biden expounded on the U.S. position, and expressed readiness for communication with China to prevent the situation from exacerbating.”
“President Xi pointed out that China does not want to see the situation in Ukraine to come to this,” the Ministry reported. “China stands for peace and opposes war. This is embedded in China’s history and culture. China makes a conclusion independently based on the merits of each matter. China advocates upholding international law and universally recognized norms governing international relations. China adheres to the UN Charter and promotes the vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security. These ar the major principles that underpin China’s approach to the Ukraine crisis.”
“China has put forward a six-point initiative on the humanitarian situation in Ukraine, and is ready to provide further humanitarian assistance to Ukraine and other affected countries,” the Ministry said. “All sides need to jointly support Russia and Ukraine in having dialogue and negotiation that will produce results and lead to peace. The U.S. and NATO should also have dialogue with Russia to address the crux of the Ukraine crisis and ease the security concerns of both Russia and Ukraine.”
Both Xi and Biden stressed the importance of maintaining open lines of communication between the two nations.
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