Before Ukrainian conflict
Prior to the Ukrainian conflict, China and Russia grew closer as seen by their growing trade and partnerships. China’s leader Xi Jinping even asked Putin to delay the Ukraine war until after the Beijing Olympics.
Growing trade: Russia and China’s economies are highly compatible: Russia is mineral-rich with high energy reserves, while China can handle mineral processing in mass.
- Over the years, China-Russia trade has rapidly grown. In 2021, the trade between the two eastern countries hit an estimated $140 billion.
- A highway bridge connecting the two countries, the first of its kind, is opening soon. The bridge is expected to increase Russia-China trade to $200 billion.
China’s silk road: China’s foreign policy revolves around the Silk Road Economic Belt, a massive infrastructure project to connect all of Asia, Europe, and Africa through cross-continental highways, under China.
- Russia’s territory plays a crucial role in China’s initiative. It was initially unclear whether Moscow would sign off on the project, but it eventually agreed in 2019.
Thinking geopolitically: China’s economy is ten times larger than Russia’s, and Russia would ultimately be the more vulnerable partner in a China-Russia alliance. Because of this, some suggest Russia would be better off joining the West against China.
During Ukrainian conflict
How China Could Help Russia
- Ramping up purchases of Russian oil and wheat
- Broadening existing currency swap arrangements
- Extending loans and credit to Russian companies
- Providing Russian banks with their own financial banking system to counter the SWIFT ban.
- Providing Russia with military equipment