Putin celebrates close ties with China in Vladivostok, but appearances are deceiving

To underscore how much China values ​​close relations with Russia, China sent Li Zhanshu, the official third man in China’s governing body, to Vladivostok to participate in the Eastern Economic Forum.

There, China was present with the largest foreign delegation. Li may also make immediate preparations for a summit between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping. It is then scheduled to take place in Uzbekistan later this month, during Xi’s first overseas trip since the end of 2019, when the coronavirus spread to China.

Much credit to Russia, relations between China and Russia look better than ever. When Russian President Putin came to Beijing in early February for the Winter Olympics, the two countries said in a joint statement that the friendship between the two countries had “no borders” and that there were no “no-go zones for cooperation”.

Even when Russia invaded Ukraine, China remained on Putin’s side. China referred to the United States and NATO as the real aggressors in the war against Ukraine, and when Russia unreasonably claimed that the United States was producing biological weapons in Ukraine, China was the first to bring up this “news”.

no trust

But appearances are deceiving. Russia and China do not trust each other at all. Both are just trying to put the other on their agenda. China succeeds in this better than Russia, because Russia depends on China much more than the other way around.

This dependence is only increasing because of the war. China does not provide Russia with honest, practical support. And now that Russia desperately needs missiles and grenades, they get them not from China, but from North Korea and Iran. China does not supply arms to Russia on a large scale, as the United States does to Ukraine.

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It shows the complexity of the relationship between Russia and China. Communist China initially received a lot of support from the Soviet Union, but by the end of the 1960s the love was over. The founder of the People’s Republic, Mao Zedong, no longer wanted to remain subservient to Russia, he himself wanted a leading role in the communist world. It almost led to a war, and old Chinese still remember digging underground passages for shelter in the event of a nuclear war.

China is now basically obsessed with the United States. In the long run, the United States is the biggest enemy of the fight. China can use Russia’s support in this, but preferably with Russia in a secondary role. Russia, traditionally the older brother of the Chinese Communist Party and the supreme head of the communist world, must become the younger brother as soon as possible. A brother who can force China at any time to follow an international policy that China defines and determines.

China is now basically obsessed with the United States

So China wants Russia to become as dependent on it as possible. War presents excellent opportunities for this. For example, China wants energy from Russia at the cheapest possible price. Outside the energy sector, trade flows between Russia and China are limited and not vital to China. Russia accounts for only 2 percent of China’s trade, and 70 percent of it goes to energy.

Because of the war, Russia is having a hard time getting rid of its gas and oil in Europe. China is quite ready to buy more, but only on favorable terms.

China sells Russian LNG

In addition, China is also benefiting from higher prices in the gas market in Europe by selling Russian LNG, the liquid gas it bought cheaply, to Europe at the highest price. China does not need this LNG at the moment: the economy is doing poorly and China is already getting enough cheap Russian gas through pipelines.

China also gets oil cheaply, although it is not publicly known exactly what China is paying. The country has been importing more Russian oil since May. Russia thus became the largest supplier of oil to China, at the expense of Chinese imports from Saudi Arabia and Angola, for example. This is favorable for China, but less suitable for the Russian war coffers due to the low price.

China wants to avoid over-reliance on Russian energy. Russia has become increasingly dependent on China and India for oil sales. More than half of Russian oil already goes to China and India, where China buys slightly more than India.

Meanwhile, China supports Russia in opposing a European proposal on an oil price cap. Such an extreme would be unfavorable to Russia.

From now on, China can also pay for oil and gas in Chinese yuan or rubles, it was announced on Tuesday. This is beneficial for China, as it makes the Chinese currency more dominant internationally without the need to immediately become freely tradable. Sberbank, Russia’s largest bank, announced on Tuesday that the bank will also provide loans in Chinese yuan.

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