China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday criticized sanctions imposed on Russia by the US, NATO, and its allies amid the deteriorating situation in Ukraine.

When asked about whether China would consider imposing sanctions on Russia during a daily briefing session, foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told a reporter, “You obviously lack a basic understanding of Chinese government policy.”

“We believe that sanctions are never the fundamental and effective way to solve problems. China always opposes any illegal unilateral sanctions,” Chunying added, making China’s stance clear.

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The 51-year-old went on to question the efficacy of US sanctions with regard to conflict resolution, saying, “Have they solved the problem? Is the world better off because of US sanctions? Will Ukraine’s problems be resolved automatically by the imposition of US sanctions against Russia? Will Europe’s security be more secure as a result of US sanctions against Russia? I think we should try to solve the problem through dialogue and negotiation.”

Chunying further highlighted the human cost of economic sanctions by the West, saying sanctions “have caused serious difficulties to the economy and people’s livelihood of the countries concerned.” She added that the US should “not undermine the legitimate rights and interests” of China, as well as “other parties.”

“On the Ukraine issue, unlike the U.S., which keeps sending weapons to Ukraine, creating fear and panic and even playing up the threat of war, China has been calling on all parties to respect and pay attention to each other’s legitimate security concerns, work together to solve problems through negotiations and consultations, and maintain regional peace and stability,” Chunying said, clarifying China’s stance.

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The Chinese condemnation comes after the US, the UK, the European Union (EU), Canada, Australia, and Japan imposed fresh sanctions on Russia after Vladimir Putin on Monday announced that Russia would officially recognise the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic as sovereign states independent of Ukraine.

Since the announcement, Ukraine has accused pro-Russia rebels in the Donbas region in the east of the country of shelling government forces, and has also announced the drafting of reservists aged 18-60 years.

Russia has reportedly amassed around 150,000 troops along Ukraine’s borders, sparking fears of an imminent invasion. In light of the deteriorating situation in Ukraine, the West have threatened Russia with more tough sanctions in a bid to pressurize Moscow to hold off on an invasion of its neighbour.