Beijing, June 1: China’s support for Russia through the purchase of oil and gas has frustrated Washington and increased the risk of US retaliation, foreign observers say.
The importance of Beijing as the lifeline of Russian President Vladimirputin came after the European Union of 27 countries, the main market for fossil fuels that supply most of Moscow’s foreign income, agreed to suspend oil purchases. It rose on Monday.
President Xi Jinping’s government has declared that he has an “unlimited” friendship with Moscow prior to Russia’s February 24 attack, and has continued to speculate on whether Putin will be bailed out.
China has rejected sanctions illegally because the United States, Europe and Japan have separated Russia from the market and the global banking system without going through the United Nations, which Beijing and Moscow have veto powers.
Sanctions do not prohibit China, India, or any other country from purchasing Russian oil and gas. However, President Joe Biden warned Xi about unspecified consequences if Beijing helped Moscow avoid sanctions. It leaves the risk that Chinese companies may be punished for losing access to the valuable western market.
Beijing seems to be in compliance. However, state-owned enterprises are buying more Russian oil and gas, which is driving the Kremlin’s export revenues. They are also potential investors in Russian energy projects as Western companies leave.
“The Biden administration will be more and more resentful of China’s continued support for Russia,” Eurasia Group’s Neil Thomas said in an email.
It raises the possibility of “one-sided moves to punish Beijing” and “coordination of the alliance on economic security measures aimed at countering China,” Thomas said.
The conflict has heightened tensions with Washington over Taiwan, Hong Kong, human rights, trade, technology, and Beijing’s strategic ambitions. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a speech on May 26 that China has raised “the most serious long-term challenge to the international order.”
The Western government has tried to stay away from Putin’s war by calling for peace talks, but has avoided criticizing Moscow. Other governments have warned Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, that “never harm China’s legitimate interests” in its dealings with Ukraine.
According to Ursula von der Leyen, head of government, EU leaders’ decision on Monday will reduce Russia’s oil imports by 90%. European customers pay Russia $ 1 billion a day in oil, gas and coal.
Russia’s Permanent Representative of Vienna’s international organization, Mikhail Ulyanov, replied on Twitter: “Russia will find other importers.” Moscow is a small trading partner in Beijing, but the United States in world affairs. It is an ally that opposes the resentment of both as rulers.
China sees Russia’s oil and gas as a way to diversify its supply to energy-intensive economies. According to the International Energy Agency, China bought 20% of Russia’s crude oil exports last year. Both sides announced a new 30-year gas contract on February 4, three weeks before Moscow’s attack on Ukraine, and the Global Times, a state-run newspaper, said it would increase annual supply to China by about 25%. rice field.
Although the two are friendly, China is taking advantage of this situation to obtain cheaper energy and favorable commerce, said Maria Shagina of the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
“They will always take advantage of Russia’s isolation,” Shagina said. “But they will be very careful not to violate sanctions completely.” On May 24, while Biden was visiting Tokyo, Russian and Chinese fighters were in the Sea of Japan, East China Sea, and West. A “strategic aerial patrol” was conducted over the Pacific Ocean. The Japanese government said the bomber flew near Japan.
Biden warned Xi not to give Moscow military or financial assistance at a video conference on March 18. Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said in March that Washington would not tolerate other countries helping China and Moscow evade sanctions. The White House has criticized Beijing’s “rhetorical support” for Putin.
In a written answer to the question, the US Embassy said Washington was “closely monitoring” China’s deal with Moscow. “We have never seen the provision of military equipment,” it said. Asked about economic sanctions and possible violations, the embassy said there was nothing more.
“There are rumors that state-owned Chinese companies may intervene to acquire shares,” Shagina said after BP and ExxonMobil announced that they would withdraw from Russia’s oil and gas projects.
China’s imports from Russia were $ 8.9 billion in April, up 56.6% year-on-year, according to customs data. This helped the Putin administration record a current account surplus of $ 96 billion, the broadest measure of trade, in the four months to April.
Washington is also dissatisfied with India, the world’s third-largest oil importer, buying more from Russia to take advantage of low prices. The Biden administration is urging Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government to suspend.
In March, the U.S. government prepared its Asian and European allies, and U.S. intelligence agencies to provide military support for China’s campaign in Ukraine and financial support to limit the effects of sanctions. He said he had determined that he had shown something to Russia.
Russia has been expelled from the global SWIFT network for bank transfers.
UnionPay, a Chinese credit card processor, refused to partner with Russian banks after Visa and MasterCard stopped serving Russian banks, Russian news agency RBC reported in April. .. UnionPay said he was worried that he would be hit by “secondary sanctions” and be cut off from the Western-dominated global financial system.
China has given Moscow an economic lifeline following western sanctions imposed on the 2014 seizure of the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine.
Beijing has agreed to buy Russian gas in a deal estimated to be worth up to $ 400 billion over 30 years. Moscow turned to Chinese state-owned enterprises to help pay for oil and gas development after Crimea-related sanctions blocked Western funding. “Help will never come for free,” Shagina said.