As Russia launches an operation in Ukraine, prompting outrage and sanctions from the US and several other nations in the West, China has indicated that an "independent power" like Russia does not need Beijing's backing for actions in Ukraine, clarifying that it was not supporting nor condemning Moscow for its actions.
"As for the US suggestion that Russia has China's backing to act, I believe Russia will be very unhappy to hear such a statement," Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told the media during a regular press briefing on Thursday, according to a report by RT.
The state-run Russian broadcaster quoted Chunying as saying that Russia was a permanent member of the UN Security Council and an independent power. Moscow's actions, she added, were based on its own judgement and national interests.
Relations between China and Russia were based on non-alignment, non-confrontation and non-targeting of third parties, she said, adding that "China is not interested in, and has no intention of following, the Cold War mentality of either friend or foe," according to RT.
Russian forces on Thursday fired missiles at several cities in Ukraine and landed troops on its coast, officials and media said, after President Vladimir Putin authorised what he called a special military operation in the east.
At the press briefing, Chunying refrained from calling the Russian actions an invasion, unlike the US.
"This is perhaps a difference between China and you Westerners. We won't go rushing to a conclusion," she said, according to Reuters.
"Regarding the definition of an invasion, I think we should go back to how to view the current situation in Ukraine. The Ukrainian issue has other very complicated historical background that have continued to today. It may not be what everyone wants to see," she added.
The spokesperson called for all sides to exercise restraint to prevent the situation from getting "out of control".
She also called on Europe to reflect on how it can better protect its peace.
"At the current stage, we should consider whether we've done enough in mediation," Chunying said, referring to Europe.
"Some countries have been following the US in fanning the flame," Hua said, referring to sanctions on Russia. "We object any action that hypes up war."
According to the RT report, Chunying stressed the need for strengthening strategic communication and coordination between Russia and China, adding that Moscow and Beijing should also firmly safeguard the system in which the UN played a core role for coordination in international affairs.