China’s Prime Minister Li Keqiang (L) speaks to Malaysia’s lower house speaker Azhar Azizan Harun during the East Asia Summit as part of the 40th and 41st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summits in Phnom Penh on November 13, 2022.
Photo by AFP
A senior U.S. official said on Monday, Nov. 14, that Chinese Premier Li Keqiang stressed the “irresponsibility” of nuclear threats throughout a summit in Cambodia, suggesting Beijing is feeling nervous with the nuclear rhetoric of its strategic partner.
Li was present at the East Asia Summit on Sunday, Nov. 13, along with U.S. President Joe Biden. According to a senior White House official told members of the media prior to a meeting between Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday, Nov. 14that the Chinese premier “spoke rather extensively about China’s policy towards Ukraine.”
According to the official, Li “put a clear emphasis on sovereignty, on the irresponsibility of nuclear threats, and the need to ensure that nuclear weapons are not used in the way that some have suggested.”
Despite Beijing’s formal partnership with Moscow, the U.S. official said there was “undeniably some discomfort in Beijing about what we’ve seen in terms of reckless rhetoric and activity on the part of Russia”.
Since its invasion of Ukraine, which began back in February, the Western world has accused Russia of making reckless comments about the use of nuclear weapons. In response, Moscow has accused the West of using “provocative” nuclear rhetoric.
The official added that “I think it is also undeniable that China is probably both surprised and even a little bit embarrassed by the conduct of Russian military operations”.
Biden and Xi met for the first time since Biden came to power on Monday, Nov. 14, at the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia.