Russian diplomat believes war between United States and China would 'exterminate mankind'

He said there'd be no point choosing a side.
He said there'd be no point choosing a side. Photo credit: Getty Images.

A top Russian diplomat believes there'd be no point in choosing a side between China and the United States in any armed conflict, as such a war would "exterminate all mankind". 

Concerns about tensions between Beijing and Washington DC have escalated this year as China increases its military presence in the South China Sea, near self-ruled Taiwan. 

While China claims Taiwan as its own and the US has no formal diplomatic ties to the island, Washington is its most important military backer and has been trying to deepen the pair's "unofficial relationship", much to the anger of Beijing. 

"If anyone dares to separate Taiwan from China, the Chinese People's Liberation Army will resolutely fight head-on at all costs and resolutely defend the country's unity and territorial integrity," a Chinese Defence Ministry spokesperson said earlier this month.

Admiral Philip Davidson, a top US military officer in Asia, in March said China could invade Taiwan within the next six years.

That has raised the question of how Russia - which has its own strained relationship with the US - may react in the case of any armed conflict.

In an interview with Chinese state-owned media outlet the Global Times, Russian Ambassador to China Andrey Denisov was asked what side his country would take. 

"There will be no answer to this question because I am convinced that there will be no armed conflict between China and the US, just as there will be no armed conflict between Russia and the US, because such a conflict would exterminate all mankind, and then there would be no point in taking sides," he is quoted as replying.

"However, if you are asking about the judgment of the international situation and major issues, then Russia's position is clearly much closer to China's."

While Denisov said the US wants to "crush" its competitors, he hopes the "Russia-China-US tripod" keeps upright. 

"We cannot imagine a world without the US today. The US plays a big role in terms of economy, culture, science and technology, and we cannot deny this fact. But on the other hand, the US needs to recognise that it is not the only country in the world, and it needs to take into account and respect the realities and goals of other countries"

Also in the spotlight recently has been the rhetoric across the ditch in Australia from some officials. Peter Dutton, the Defence Minister, said he doesn't believe conflict with China over Taiwan should be discounted, while Australian Home Affairs Department Secretary Mike Pezzullo told staff the "drums of war" are beating. 

"Today, as free nations again hear the beating drums and watch worryingly the militarisation of issues that we had, until recent years, though unlikely to be catalysts for war, let us continue to search unceasingly for the chance for peace while bracing again, yet again, for the curse of war," Pezzullo said.

"War might well be folly, but the greater folly is to wish away the curse by refusing to give it thought and attention, as if in so doing, war might leave us be, forgetting us perhaps."

Denisov's interview came ahead of US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin meeting on Thursday for a three-hour long summit

Biden said he raised human rights - including Russia's imprisonment of opposition figure Alexei Navalny - as well as cyberattacks on US infrastructure believed to have come from within Russia. 

"I told President Putin my agenda is not against Russia or anyone else, it's for the American people," Biden said. "I made it clear to President Putin that we'll continue to raise issues of fundamental human rights because that's who we are."

Putin, who called Biden a "balanced and professional man" who spoke the same language as him, denied Russia's involvement in cyberattacks.