German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen arrive for a press conference at Meseberg Palace in Gransee near Berlin, Germany, Sunday, March 5, 2023. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)

BERLIN (AP) — German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said there would be “consequences” if China sent weapons to Russia for the war in Ukraine, but he’s optimistic Beijing will refrain from doing so.

Scholz gave an interview to CNN which aired on Sunday, two days after meeting US President Joe Biden in Washington.

US officials recently warned that China may start supplying arms and ammunition to Moscow. Ahead of his trip, Scholz urged Beijing to refrain from sending weapons and to use its influence to pressure Russia to withdraw its troops from Ukraine.

Asked by CNN if China would be sanctioned if it helped Russia, Scholz replied: “I think it would have consequences, but we are now at a stage where we are clearly indicating that this should not happen, and I am relatively optimistic. that we will succeed.” with our request in this case, but we will have to consider it and we have to be very, very careful.”

He did not specify the nature of the consequences. Germany has Europe’s largest economy and China has been its biggest trading partner in recent years.

Back in Germany on Sunday and after his cabinet met with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Scholz was asked if he had received concrete evidence from the United States that China was considering handing over weapons and would support sanctions against Beijing, if that were the case. .

“We all agree that there should be no handover of weapons, and the Chinese government has said that it will not hand over any weapons,” the foreign minister replied. “This is what we demand and we observe it.”

He did not address the issue of sanctions.

Von der Leyen said “we have no evidence of this so far, but we have to observe it every day”. He added that whether the European Union would sanction China for providing military aid to Russia “is a hypothetical question that can only be answered if it becomes reality and fact.”

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