China warned Ukraine that the inclusion of 14 Chinese companies on Ukraine's "international sponsors of war" list could potentially harm relations between the two countries, Reuters reported on Feb. 1, citing unnamed Ukrainian sources.
The "international sponsors of war" list, created by Ukraine's National Agency on Corruption Prevention (NACP), is designed to be "a powerful reputational tool" to encourage the exit of international business from Russia and reduce Moscow's financial ability to continue its war against Ukraine, the NACP explains on its website.
There are almost 50 international companies on the list, with the largest number coming from China.
The warning came during a recent meeting between the Chinese ambassador to Ukraine and senior Ukrainian officials, Reuters said.
"The (Chinese) ambassador said that all this (international sponsors of war list) could have a negative impact on our relations," one of the sources told Reuters.
The source added that the ambassador did not issue any concrete threats or implications if the companies remained on the list but just offered his views on the issue.
Another source said that Beijing "could link the matter to Chinese purchases of Ukrainian grain." China was Ukraine's largest trade partner prior to the full-scale invasion, and the two countries have retained important economic ties.
Reuters said that the Chinese and Ukrainian Foreign Ministries did not respond to requests for comment, nor did the Chinese Embassy in Ukraine.
China and Russia have strengthened their economic and political ties amid a Western push to isolate Moscow following its full-scale invasion of Ukraine. China has offered to mediate the conflict but has not condemned Russia's actions and repeatedly abstained from voting in UN resolutions on the war in Ukraine.
At the same time, Ukraine has tried not to distance itself from China and has sought China's participation in talks on Ukraine's peace formula.
China has confirmed it was invited to upcoming talks in Switzerland but has not committed to joining.