Chris Hipkins says 'I'm just not making a comment' on whether Govt would back possible US sanctions on China over Ukraine

The Prime Minister says "I'm just not making a comment" on whether New Zealand will back possible US sanctions on China if Beijing provides military support to Russia for its war in Ukraine.

During his regular Tuesday morning interview with AM, Chris Hipkins would not say if the Government had been approached by the US over the matter.

"I don't want to get into the details of that but, certainly, it's something that we would have a view on," he told host Melissa Chan-Green. "The war in Ukraine is an illegal war, it's an unjust war, we think that Russia should be pulling out of Ukraine, we fully support the Ukrainian government and we would take a very dim view of any other governments that were seen to be supporting the Russian invasion of Ukraine."

Reuters reported last week the US had sounded out close allies about the possibility of imposing new sanctions on China after Washington claimed Beijing was considering providing weapons to Russia. China has denied the claims. 

US President Joe Biden's administration wanted to first raise the idea of coordinated sanctions and "take pulses" in the event any shipments are detected to Russia from China, one source told the news agency.

The consultations were intended to drum support from "a range of countries", the Reuters report said.

Asked whether the New Zealand Government was considering sanctions on China, Hipkins again refused to answer.

Chris Hipkins.
Chris Hipkins. Photo credit: AM

"As I said, it's just not something that I'm going to make a comment on at this point," he said. "At this point, in terms of the level of advice that I have received on the matter, I'm not in a position to be able to comment in more detail on that right now."

The US has warned Beijing directly against providing weapons to Russia, including in meetings between Biden and China President Xi Jinping.

Biden's administration's initial steps to counter Chinese support for Russia included informal outreach at the staff and diplomatic levels, sources told Reuters.

Officials were "laying the groundwork" for potential action against Beijing with the core group of countries that were most supportive of sanctions imposed on Russia after its invasion of Ukraine a year ago, the report said.

Since March last year, when New Zealand's Parliament unanimously passed the Russia Sanctions Act, the Government has sanctioned more than 1000 people and 350 entities with links to Moscow and implemented a raft of trade measures.

Reuters / Newshub.