• By The Financial District

Expert: China Must Pay For Backing Russia On Ukraine Intimidation

In 2014, China’s extension of economic and political backing to Russia after its annexation of Crimea was limited.

Photo Insert: Chinese President Xi Jinping holds talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, capital of China

Beijing signaled support for Moscow, for example, by signing energy, trade, and finance deals as well as a currency swap worth $25 billion. Yet, its banks complied with sanctions against Russia slapped by the US and its allies, two experts wrote for Foreign Policy.

But while the Power of Siberia pipeline moved ahead and Putin’s inner circle benefited from access to Chinese money, many of the other agreements remained on paper. China condemned US and European sanctions, but Chinese commercial banks abided by those sanctions to avoid being cut off from US financial markets and the international banking system.

Chinese President Xi Jinping was careful not to swing openly behind Moscow at the expense of China’s relationships in Europe or to risk being labeled a fellow aggressor, Bonnie S. Glaser, director of the Asia program at the German Marshall Fund of the US, and Andrew Small, a senior trans-Atlantic fellow with the German Marshall Fund, argued.

However, 2022 is different. The Sino-Russian relationship is vastly closer. The joint statement between Xi and Russian President Vladimir Putin accompanying the meeting in Beijing bears no resemblance to the past’s wary language. China’s backing of Moscow’s positions on the European security order is unusually explicit, especially given such high stakes.

All the news: Business man in suit and tie smiling and reading a newspaper near the financial district.

The US and Europe cannot allow Chinese support of an aggressive Russia to come without costs.

It might mean banning US investors from plunking in money for Chinese firms, stopping the sale of microprocessors to Chinese state companies, preventing high-tech products from reaching the Chinese military-industrial complex, and pressuring oil and coal producers to limit their exports to China. It also means choking Chinese military and industrial espionage operations in the US.

Government & politics: Politicians, government officials and delegates standing in front of their country flags in a political event in the financial district.

The consequences of Beijing’s backing are already material, the authors added. By some accounts, Moscow has reduced force levels on its borders with China and Mongolia to their lowest levels since 1922, enabling major troop transfers from its eastern military district to Belarus.

Russia’s ambassador to Beijing has said the two countries are already studying ways to mitigate the impact of potential Western sanctions—a skill set that is already far more developed than in 2014 thanks to eight years of cooperation.

Market & economy: Market economist in suit and tie reading reports and analysing charts in the office located in the financial district.

There is clear diplomatic coordination, and Chinese propaganda now mirrors Russia’s, describing NATO expansion as the looming conflict’s source as well as repeating disinformation about a large-scale buildup of Ukrainian troops.

If China provided a partial safety net for Russia from its 2014 economic fallout after the fact, this time, Beijing is acting as a more open enabler of Moscow’s aggression in Europe even before a possible invasion happens.

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