How far Chinese President Xi Jinping is willing to go to support his ” old friend “ Russian Vladimir Putin, whom he met during an exceptional face-to-face, Thursday, September 15, in Samarkand, Uzbekistan? The Communist leader assured that China “He was willing to collaborate with Russia to assume his role as a great power”. In concrete terms, this has happened since the summer through a sharp increase in trade between the two countries, at a time when international sanctions are hitting the Russian economy. But Beijing’s support remains marked by great caution.
China imported 72.9 billion dollars (72.9 billion euros) of Russian products, the vast majority of hydrocarbons, between January and August: a 50% increase compared to the same period in 2021. vice versa, “According to Chinese customs, exports to Russia, which were already on an almost vertical curve before the war, continued to increase and accelerated in July-August”, stresses François Godement, of the Montaigne Institute, in Paris. Between January and August they therefore increased by 9.4% compared to the same period in 2021, for a total of 44.2 billion dollars. Forget the decline observed in the first weeks of the war: Chinese exports have returned to pre-invasion levels on 24 February.
“China is showing pragmatic opportunism. It is providing everything it can to keep its close systemic partner afloat, while avoiding exposing itself to further economic turbulence as its internal situation is difficult “summarizes François Chimits, researcher at the Mercator Institute for China Studies (Merics) in Berlin.
It was in May that bilateral physical and monetary exchanges accelerated, according to François Godement, at a time when Beijing too radicalized its anti-US speech. “In the Moscow exchange market, I exchange the ruble-renminbi [yuan, la devise chinoise] they exploded, a sign that things are happening commerciallyobserves. However, the mixture of opportunism and caution is a hallmark of the Chinese attitude towards sanctions, which it condemns in principle. “ In this area, American pressure is strong: when the United States added 25 Chinese companies to its sanctions list in June, it placed five electronic products companies trading with Russia.
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