Hours before Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a military operation in eastern Ukraine, the US accused Moscow and Beijing of combining to create a "profoundly illiberal" world order.
Yet State Department spokesman Ned Price also said that this was an opportunity for China to use its leverage with Russia to pull back Vladimir Putin, given the new "no limits" pact he signed with China's leader Xi Jinping on the same day as the Winter Olympic opening ceremony.
"You will have to ask the PRC whether they have used their own considerable influence with the Russian Federation to that end," Mr Price said at a press briefing.
The Ukraine-Russia crisis is posing a major challenge for China on many fronts.
The ever-closer diplomatic relationship between Russia and China could be seen at the Winter Games with Mr Putin coming to Beijing as one of only a handful of known world leaders to attend.
Significantly, Mr Putin waited until just after the Games were over to recognise the two breakaway regions of Ukraine and send in troops to back them.