Lukashenko to visit China as US worries about Beijing assisting Russia in war
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko plans to visit China next week amid concerns about Beijing taking steps to help Russia in its war against Ukraine.
Belarus, which has long been an ally of Russia since the break-up of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, is one of the only countries in the world to openly stand by Russian President Vladimir Putin as the war has progressed. China has officially been neutral, but U.S. officials have claimed that Beijing has been supplying Russia with nonlethal aid and is considering sending lethal aid — such as weapons and munitions too.
Top officials in the Biden administration have warned China of significant consequences if the government sends lethal aid, but have not specified what that would entail. China has denied that it is considering lethal support for Russia.
The Chinese state-run Beijing News reported that a spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry announced President Xi Jinping has invited Lukashenko to visit China from Tuesday through Thursday.
A summary of a phone call between Belarusian Foreign Minister Sergei Aleinik and Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang showed that Aleinik said Belarus considers strong relations with China to be a priority and Qin promised that China wants to improve bilateral cooperation between the two countries.
The New York Times reported on Saturday that Lukashenko will be the most recent authoritarian ruler that China has hosted after it welcomed Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi earlier this month. Lukashenko has served as the president of Belarus since 1994, winning six consecutive elections that have not been recognized as free or fair by much of the international community.
Yauheni Preiherman, the director of the Minsk Dialogue Council on International Relations, told the Times that Lukashenko has “exclusive” information on the state of the war between Russia and Ukraine that the Chinese government will be interested in going forward.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said after China issued a 12-point plan calling for a cease-fire on Friday that he also wants to meet with Xi and is somewhat open to considering the proposal.
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