Saturday 18 May 2024 - 21:23

China-Russia Partnership: Putin’s Profitable Deals with Beijing

Story Code : 1136043
China-Russia Partnership: Putin’s Profitable Deals with Beijing
Experts suggest that now it is the golden age of Chinese-Russian relations as border issues are settlers, the approaches of the two countries on most of the international issues are aligned, bilateral economic cooperation is thriving, and there is a glaring friendship between leaders of the two nations.

Putin and Xi Jinping meet each other more than any other leaders of the world do. They have so far met more than 20 times. Putin in most of his interviews refers to Xi as "my friend." 

So, the visit to Beijing and the red carpet rolled out to the Russian leader was a demonstration of unity that frustrates the Western leaders about their plans to distance China from Russia because of Ukraine war.

Alexander Gabuev, a China expert at the Carnegie Russia Eurasia Center in Berlin, said that "never since the fall of the Soviet Union has Russia been so distant from Europe, and never in its entire history has it been so entwined with China."

In the past few months, the Westerners have tried hard to persuade the Chinese leader that expanding ties with Russia would harm China's own interests. Xi has just returned from a regional tour of three European countries, where European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and French President Emmanuel Macron advised him on the need to end support for what they call Russia's "war machine."

In recent weeks, Washington put pressure on China for Chinese supply of dual use products to Russia.

On Tuesday, the Biden administration imposed tough tariffs on $18 billion worth of Chinese goods, which experts say indirectly pressured Beijing's relationship with the Kremlin.

In the meantime, China wants to show itself neutral about Ukraine and last year it presented a comprehensive plan for peace to repeat the successful role played by Beijing in Iran-Saudi Arabia rapprochement. However, preventing a nuclear war, expansion of the crisis with negative economic impacts on the world trade, and repetition of Ukraine scenario with Western interference in Taiwan and South China Sea are factors that tie Chinese interests to Ukraine crisis. 

Certainly, for Putin, China visit is like going to a treasure island, where he has managed to weather many of economic impacts of Western sanctions. Hoping to break the back of Russia's economy, the West imposed more than 16,500 sanctions against the country to cut off any access Moscow has to the international trade and financial system. But Moscow's turning to trade with the Eastern economic giant has helped it to greatly ease the costs of sanctions. Their bilateral trade reached $240.1 billion in 2023, up 26.3 percent from $190 billion last year. Putin is still looking to up that figure.

Energy top on agenda 

Energy is the most important area where Russia wants to get the Chinese market, since with it having lost the European markets due to Ukraine war, China can be a proper replacement purchaser for its gas. At the opening ceremony of the Russia-China trade fair on Friday, Putin hailed energy ties between the two countries and promised to "strengthen" them. 

"Russia is ready and able to continuously power China's economy, businesses, cities and towns with affordable and environmentally clean energy," he said.

By selling large amounts of cheap gas to China, Russia could potentially tie Beijing into a stronger geopolitical alliance, analysts at the Center for Global Energy Policy at Columbia University wrote on Wednesday.

Gas exports to China began in 2018, and now Moscow plans to complete the Power of Siberia 2 pipeline, which will transport 50 billion cubic meters of gas annually from northern Russia via Mongolia to China, are a clear signal of a long-term strategic commitment of Russia to China.

Also, according to Kpler data, in 2023, Russia was the biggest supplier of oil to China, and despite the Western sanctions and the price cap the G7 set for Russian oil, 2.14 million oil barrels were sold to China daily. 

Renewing bonds in Little Moscow 

On Friday, Putin and Xi visited Harbin, a city in northeast China and only 70 kilometers from the Russian border which was once dubbed "Little Moscow" for its Russian Orthodox architecture and the large number of its Russian speaking community. 

According to Russian media, the Russian National Weath Fund plans to open an office in Harbin to facilitate trade partnership. Meanwhile, businesspeople are calling for use of national currencies in their bilateral trade. 

Russian-Chinese cooperation to boost non-dollar world trade has been one of the clues of the coordinated policy of changing the foundations of the Western-oriented world order and the formation of a new world order by China and Russia in recent years, the manifestations of which have shown face in the recent summits of the BRICS. 

In the Great Hall of the People, Xi told Putin : "“The China-Russia relationship today is hard-earned, and the two sides need to cherish and nurture it. China is willing to … jointly achieve the development and rejuvenation of our respective countries and work together to uphold fairness and justice in the world.”