According to a source cited by Reuters, the United States has discovered that some Chinese firms are giving Russia "non-lethal" support for the Ukraine War, and officials are raising this issue with the Chinese government.
The source claimed that according to U.S. officials, the current activity is "a significantly scaled-down version of the PRC's (Peoples Republic of China) initial plan, which was to sell lethal weapons systems for use on the battlefield."
"What we're seeing is non-lethal military assistance and economic support that stops short of wholesale sanctions evasion," the source said.
According to the source, it is unclear whether the Chinese government is aware of the activity. The source provided no further details, and Reuters was unable to independently corroborate this account.
The U.S. has warned the Chinese government of the dangers of providing weapons to Russia for use against Ukraine.
The source said U.S .officials are communicating with Chinese officials through diplomatic channels.
"We will continue to communicate to China the implications of providing material support to Russia's war against Ukraine," White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.
Although U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price declined to verify Tuesday's accusations, he said Washington has been very explicit with China about the consequences of providing material support to Russia's war in Ukraine.
"But we would be concerned if we were to see not only the PRC itself engaging in this but Chinese companies, PRC companies, doing this," Price told reporters.
Price went on to say that he has a suspicion that it will be brought up when U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has an opportunity to visit Beijing in the upcoming days.
The Biden administration would have to choose how firmly to react if it did find that China's central authority was knowingly permitting or purposefully providing help to Russia's incursion.
President Joe Biden's senior advisors have warned China of the possible repercussions since the very beginning of the war should China decide to support Russia in the fight.
Such direct material assistance from the Chinese government would also look to extend China's self-proclaimed cooperation with Moscow, which has appeared to be carefully calibrated up to this point.
China and Russia publicly declared a "friendship without limits" at the start of the conflict. However, as Russia's success on the battlefield has sputtered and the international community has rallied around Ukraine, China has refrained from providing most of the financial and military assistance requested by Moscow.