Staunton, May 2 – Since the start of Vladimir Putin’s expanded war in Ukraine, Beijing has consistently backed Moscow politically; but despite Moscow’s hopes, China has not backed up this kind of support with economic assistance. Instead, its purchases of Russian goods have fallen and it has shown itself unwilling to get more deeply involved in the Russian economy.
Russia had hoped that China would increase its purchases of Russian oil to compensate for cutbacks by the West, but that has not happened. Instead, Chinese purchases have fallen since February. China has also cut purchases of other Russian products (russian.eurasianet.org/россия-китай-не-хочет-занимать-место-уходящих-западных-компаний).
More seriously, Chinese firms have pulled out of Russia, leaving two million Russians at risk of unemployment; and other Chinese firms have shown themselves unwilling to enter despite being provided with a list of places where they could replace shuttered Western ones (kommersant.ru/doc/5317620).
And underscoring that the Chinese government is behind these moves rather than they being the result of the calculations of Chinese industrialists, China has made it clear that it will not help Russia evade Western sanctions, a move it took after being warned by the United States that China would be sanctioned if it did so.
A major reason for China’s approach, as even Russian analysts acknowledge, is that the Western market is far more important for Beijing than is the Russian. Any gains in the Russian market would not make up for the far larger losses China would suffer by incurring the wrath of the West (secretmag.ru/stories/rf-i-knr.htm).