U.S. Markets open in 1 hr 44 mins

As U.S. defends Ukraine at U.N., China warns against challenge over Taiwan

·3 min read

By Michelle Nichols

UNITED NATIONS, July 29 (Reuters) - China accused the United States of double standards at the United Nations on Friday for challenging Beijing's sovereignty over Taiwan while emphasizing the principle of sovereignty for Ukraine after Russian forces invaded.

A day after Chinese leader Xi Jinping warned U.S. President Joe Biden in a phone call against playing with fire over Taiwan, deputy U.N. Ambassador Geng Shuang reinforced the message during a meeting on Ukraine at the 15-member U.N. Security Council.

"While some country has repeatedly emphasized the principle of sovereignty over the issue of Ukraine, it has incessantly challenged the sovereignty of China over Taiwan, and even deliberately created tension in the Taiwan Strait," Geng said, a clear reference to the United States without naming it.

Russia says it is carrying out a "special military operation" to root out dangerous nationalists from its neighbor Ukraine but Kyiv and the West say it is an unprovoked war of aggression.

The determination of China to defend its national sovereignty and territorial integrity should not be underestimated, Geng said. "I hope the country concerned will see this clearly and not play with fire."

Beijing is concerned about a possible visit to the Chinese-claimed island of Taiwan by U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Such a visit would be a dramatic, though not unprecedented, show of U.S. support for Taiwan.

Biden told Xi on Thursday that U.S. policy on Taiwan had not changed and that Washington strongly opposes unilateral efforts to alter the status quo or undermine peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, the White House said.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, who addressed the council before Geng's speech, said Russia had "effectively set the U.N. Charter on fire." The charter says the United Nations is based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all members and they should settle international disputes by peaceful means.

"There should no longer be any doubt, as we warned early this year, that Russia intends to dismantle Ukraine as a geopolitical entity and dissolve it from the world map entirely," Thomas-Greenfield said.

The U.S. mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Geng's remarks.

Deputy Russian U.N. Ambassador Dmitry Polyanskiy accused Western states of carrying out a proxy war against Russia by supplying Ukraine government forces with weapons.

"The de-Nazification and demilitarization of Ukraine will be carried out in full," Polyanskiy said, using Moscow's official language to describe the Feb. 24 invasion. "There must no longer be a threat from this state to Donbas (border region of Ukraine) nor to Russia nor to the liberated Ukrainian territories."

U.N. political affairs chief Rosemary DiCarlo told the meeting that the conflict had entered "a more protracted phase" and "regrettably, political dialogue has virtually ground to a halt." (Reporting by Michelle Nichols; editing by Grant McCool)