Since the start of the war in Ukraine, the West has imposed a number of crippling economic sanctions on Russia. These ensure that Moscow is increasingly isolated worldwide. However, Beijing still refuses to go along with Western sanctions and gratefully imports cheap Russian oil.
Why is this important?Since the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, the Western world and Russia have grown further apart than ever at all levels. At the same time, Russia seems to be turning more and more towards Asia, especially China.
The essence: CIA director William Joseph Burns said last week that the energy partnership between Moscow and Beijing could lead to Russia becoming an “economic colony of China.”
- “If you look at the reality, Russia is becoming increasingly dependent on China and in some ways is at risk of eventually becoming an economic colony of China – depending on the export of energy resources and raw materials,” said Burns.
- China has remained officially unaligned in the war in Ukraine and refuses to condemn Russia or officially side with Kyiv.
- However, Beijing has increased its efforts in the past year to supply the Russian market with large quantities of crucial raw materials, electronics and computer chips. China is reaping the benefits of the Western exodus from Russia.
- In addition, Beijing is increasingly importing Russian energy resources, including crude oil and coal.
- China’s crude oil imports from Russia rose 8 percent in 2022 to 86.25 million tons, according to the International Business Times. China’s coal imports also rose significantly last year, rising 20 percent to 68.06 million tons, states Reuters based on Chinese customs data.
Dependence on China
- The Russian market also seems to be becoming dependent on Chinese goods. In the past year, hundreds of Western global brands have fled Russia in response to the invasion of Ukraine.
- It has forced Russians to find alternatives to everything from smartphones to cars. And Chinese companies benefit from this, which are willingly filling the new spaces in the Russian market.
- Chinese products accounted for 40 percent of Russian goods imports by the end of 2022, notes Business Insider on. Only North Korea is more dependent on Chinese products.
- Experts say this will only increase economic dependence on Russia, which may force the Kremlin to take China’s geopolitical and economic interests into account in the future. Even when they run counter to those of the West.