October 6, 2022

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China is cautiously and enthusiastically supporting Russia’s economic recovery

How far is Chinese President Xi Jinping willing to support him? “Old Friend” On Thursday, September 15, he met Russia’s Vladimir Putin in an extraordinary meeting in Samarkand, Uzbekistan? The Communist leader promised China “Was willing to work with Russia to assume its role as a great power”. This comes as trade between the two countries has increased sharply since the summer, at a time when international sanctions are affecting the Russian economy. But Beijing’s support is cautious.

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China imported $72.9 billion (€72.9 billion) of Russian products, mostly hydrocarbons, between January and August: a 50% increase compared to the same period in 2021. “According to Chinese customs, exports to Russia, which had been on an almost vertical curve before the war, continued to increase, and accelerated in July-August.”, underlines François Cotment of the Montaigne Institute in Paris. Between January and August, compared to the same period in 2021, the total increased by 9.4% to $44.2 billion. Forget the slump seen in the first weeks of the war: Chinese exports have returned to their pre-invasion levels on February 24.

“China shows pragmatic opportunism. Given its difficult domestic situation, it is doing what it can to keep its closest institutional partner afloat while protecting itself from further economic turmoil.François Schmitz, a researcher at the Mercator Institute for China Studies (MERIX) in Berlin, summarizes.

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Bilateral physical and monetary transfers accelerated in May, according to François Cotment, at a time when Beijing also intensified its rhetoric against the United States. “Ruble-renminbi exchange on the Moscow foreign exchange market [yuan, la devise chinoise] A burst is a sign that things are going well commerciallyHe mentions. Nevertheless, a combination of opportunism and caution is a characteristic feature of the Chinese approach to sanctions, which it condemns in principle. » In this area, U.S. pressure remains strong: In June, the U.S. added 25 Chinese companies to its own sanctions list, including five electronics companies that did business with Russia.

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