New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman warned on Sunday that China could push the Russia-Ukraine conflict into a “true world war.”

Friedman appeared for an interview with NBC’s Meet the Press and spoke about China-Russia relations and said, “China, first of all, they would like the war prolonged because it keeps us [United States] tied down. And we’re burning through all our weaponry and all our military stock.”

Friedman said that he thinks China would “like a weak Russia that’s forced to be economically dependent on them,” adding that China doesn’t “want a collapsed Russia.”

“That’s a very bad signal for Taiwan if the West could take Russia down. So, I think the Chinese might be concerned about that. But I think you can’t exaggerate how important it would be if China did that, then this would be a true world war. It affects every global market and we’re in a completely new world.”

While speaking on Meet the Press on Sunday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he warned his Chinese counterpart of “serious consequences” for supporting Russia in its war against Ukraine.

When asked what evidence the U.S. has to prove China is considering providing lethal aid to Russia, Blinken responded: “China is trying to have it both ways. Publicly they present themselves as a country striving for peace in Ukraine, but privately as I’ve said, we’ve seen already over these past months, the provision of non-lethal assistance that does go directly to aiding and abetting Russia’s war effort.”

The secretary of state concluded: “And some further information that we are sharing today, and that I think will be out there soon, that indicates that they are strongly considering providing lethal assistance to Russia. To the best of our knowledge, they haven’t crossed that line yet.”

China president Xi Russia president Putin
Chinese President Xi Jinping is seen on November 19, 2022, in Bangkok. Russian President Vladimir Putin is seen on February 9 in Moscow. New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman warned on Sunday that China could push the Russia-Ukraine conflict into a “true world war.” (Photo by Lauren DeCicca/Getty Images) / (Photo by Contributor/Getty Images)

Retired Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, former commanding general of U.S. Army Europe, told Newsweek on Sunday, “It is in the interest of China to see the US continuing to support Ukraine. While the US and other western nations are supplying weapons, support and intelligence in Ukraine’s existential fight to regain control over their sovereign boundaries, China is able to further expand their strategic reach in many areas beyond their border while continuing to address their own domestic challenges.”

He added: “China continues to see their competitors, both the U.S. and Russia, distracted while they work toward accomplishing their national objectives.”

Similarly, retired Lieutenant General Ben Hodges and former U.S. Army Europe commander, told Newsweek on Sunday, “It is growing increasingly clear that China is actively supporting Russia with aid, although attempting to do it just below the threshold for sanctions. The Chinese are calculating their actions based on their read of our willingness to stick together and help Ukraine defeat Russia. If we can’t or won’t do that, then the CCP leadership is not going to be too impressed with anything we say about Taiwan or the South China Sea.”

Hodges concluded: “The war in Ukraine is not separate from China’s threat in the IndoPacific region. The defense of freedom from autocracy (Russia, China, Iran, N. Korea) and the defense of an international, rules-based order (UN Charter, sovereignty, freedom of navigation, respect for human rights) runs thru Ukraine.”