US ambassador urges China to stop spreading Russian ‘lies’

BEIJING: The US ambassador to China has called on the Foreign Ministry in Beijing to stop spreading Russia’s “lies”, in an unusually direct and public rebuke of the top US diplomat in the country.
Ambassador Nicolas Burne made the “request” in response to a question at a government-backed forum on Monday about what China could do to resolve the crisis of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Burns reiterated President Joe Biden’s call on Beijing to avoid helping Moscow fight the war, before tipping into a point of contention between the world’s two largest economies.
“I hope Chinese Foreign Ministry spokespersons will stop blaming NATO for starting this war. This is Russian propaganda,” Burns told the World Peace Forum hosted by Tsinghua University. “I hope Foreign Ministry spokespersons will also stop lying about US bioweapons labs, which do not exist in Ukraine.
“These were all from Russia. Unfortunately, it was picked up by the Chinese,” Burns added.
While China has said it does not support the war and urged talks to end the fighting, senior officials and state media have repeatedly accused the United States of provoking Russia by authorizing the expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Diplomats, including Foreign Ministry spokespersons Hua Chunying and Zhao Lijian, have also used official platforms to amplify Russian-backed conspiracy theories that the United States was producing biological weapons in Ukraine.
The United States denies the allegations and has previously accused China of spreading disinformation, and Burns’ call came at a rally likely to draw the attention of the Foreign Office. Tsinghua is organizing the forum with the approval of the State Council and the help of the Chinese People’s Institute of Foreign Affairs, a think tank.
Zhao then dismissed Burns’ criticism, reiterating the ministry’s requests for more information on US activities in Ukraine and urging the US ambassador to speak with the Chinese about their views on NATO. “It was the US official who spread the misinformation, not China,” Zhao said at a regular press briefing Monday in Beijing.
Moments before Burns spoke, Andrey Denisov, Russia’s ambassador to China, praised Beijing for its “reasonable and balanced” approach and noted its continued relationship with Kyiv. “That’s why I hope China can signal to our Ukrainian neighbors to be more realistic in their approach to assessing the situation,” Denisov said.

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