President Xi Jinping supported keeping China fully open to wheat imports from Russia, despite broad sanctions imposed by the West in an attempt to stop Putin’s war in Ukraine.
Imports have been limited in recent months due to concerns about Russia’s measures to prevent plant diseases, especially crops.
It is reported that the move to keep the market open was part of a deal between Moscow and Beijing ended earlier this month and is the latest sign of growing ties between the two countries.
Russia, the world’s largest exporter of wheat, exported more than 30 million tonnes of the product from January to November last year.
That same year, Moscow sent 9.8% of its total agricultural exports, including cereals, fishery products, meat and dairy products, to China.
This comes after experts predicted yesterday that China could buy more Russian energy and lend Moscow cash to help Putin withstand the sanctions imposed by his invasion of Ukraine.
Putin’s decision to launch military action against Ukraine will lead to the United States, Britain and others NATO the allies are taking more sanctions against Russia.
China throws another lifeline on Russian Vladimir Putin by lifting sanctions by lifting restrictions on wheat imports in economic boost for Moscow
President Xi Jinping backs keeping China fully open to wheat imports from Russia, despite broad Western sanctions in an attempt to end Putin’s war in Ukraine
A statement from China’s Central Customs Administration said Russia had also agreed to take new measures to tackle phytosanitary problems.
China initially launched important wheat on a large scale, with the first order of about 667 metric tons in October.
Experts said yesterday that they believe China is likely to help Russia “behind the scenes” with the level of support from Beijing potentially becoming an “influential factor in shaping the evolving crisis”.
However, China will have to “follow a thin line” as it tries to avoid damaging its ties with the West, and protecting trade is likely to be a key priority.
China and Russia have become closer in recent years as they both face growing tensions with the West.
Putin visited Beijing in early February for the start of the Winter Olympics.
He and President Xi Jinping then issued a statement declaring that “friendship between the two countries has no borders.”
China has backed Russia’s opposition to NATO enlargement, as the two nations have accused the United States, the United Kingdom and others of adopting “Cold War ideological approaches” to international relations.
The statement pledged the couple to step up foreign policy coordination and protect common interests.
However, China did not publicly support Russia over the crisis in Ukraine, but instead called on “all countries” to exercise “restraint”.
Beijing said the situation in Ukraine was “the result of very complex factors” and “China always takes its own position according to the merits of the issue itself.”
Following the invasion of Ukraine, China is unlikely to publicly support Putin’s actions, but is unlikely to criticize the Russian president.
Experts believe China will help Russia as Western sanctions begin to bite.
This could mean that Chinese banks are giving money to Moscow and Beijing to buy more Russian oil and gas.
Tom Rafferty, a Beijing-based analyst with the Economist Intelligence Unit, told the Financial Times: “The level of Chinese support for Russia’s actions could be an influential factor in shaping the evolving crisis.”
The move to preserve the wheat market is reportedly part of a deal between Moscow and Beijing earlier this month, and is the latest sign of growing ties between the two countries.
Jakub Jakobowski, a senior fellow at the Chinese program at the Center for Eastern Studies in Warsaw, told the newspaper: “Unless the West makes China a really significant price, China will still help Russia behind the scenes.”
However, many believe that China will want to avoid damaging its economic interests in the West, and this is likely to soften its support for Moscow.
Noah Barkin, an expert on European-China relations at the US research firm Rhodium Group, told Bloomberg that Beijing “will have to follow a thin line in this crisis.”
He said: “She will want to avoid openly criticizing Russia’s actions in Ukraine, while reaffirming her support for the principles of territorial integrity and non-interference. The hotter the conflict in Ukraine, the harder it will be for Beijing to follow that line. ”
Meanwhile, Professor Steve Zhang, director of the China Institute for Oriental and African Studies (Soas), told the newspaper that China “does not want to see a war for Ukraine because it has strong economic and other ties with Ukraine.”
Growing tensions with the West are expected to accelerate Russia’s ongoing move to the East when it comes to selling its oil and gas.
Russian energy companies negotiated new long-term supply deals with China in early February.
Gazprom has signed its second long-term gas agreement with China, which will allow the company to supply 10 billion cubic meters a year for 25 years through a new pipeline.
Russian gas supplies to China are reported to reach 48 billion cubic meters a year, but talks are under way to develop a third route, which will add another 50 billion cubic meters.
Oil company Rosneft has agreed to supply 100 million tons of crude oil to China within a decade, replacing an existing one that is leaking.
Demand for Russian energy in China is expected to increase in the coming years, while European demand is likely to decline.