Impact of US Sanctions: Russia Becomes Fastest Growing Trade Partner of China

Trade between China and Russia continues to boom in the backdrop of the Ukraine war and the aggressive western sanctions against Moscow. According to the latest data from China's General Administration of Customs, Beijing's total trade with Russia has risen to levels not witnessed ever since the invasion of Ukraine last year.

The bilateral trade between China and Russia was worth $20.5 billion in May, the Daily Telegraph reported, citing official data. Meanwhile, Chinese imports from Russia were worth $11.3 billion.

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Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping

40 Percent Increase

Total bilateral trade between the partners was more than $93.8 billion between January and May this year. This marks a 40 percent increase compared with the trade volume in the same period last year.

The latest data shows that one of the direct impacts of the crippling western sanctions against Russia was that Moscow has now become Beijing's fastest-growing trade partner in the world.

Swelling Chinese Exports

The data further shows that China's exports to Russia have been worth $42.96 billion since January 2023, which marks 75 percent increase compared with the same period in 2022.

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In May, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin signaled Russia's trade with China zooming to $200 billion in 2023. Mishustin and China's Premier Li Qiang met in Beijing to proclaim solidarity and a determination to boost trade partnership.

'No Limits' Partnership

Mishustin said Russia and China were working on implementing the agreements made between China's leader Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin in March. In the March summit Xi and Putin said the relationship between the countries was a "no limits" partnership.

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Even as China's trade with Russia boomed, those that suffered are mainly western nations and their allies. The biggest decrease in trade with China was seen in the United States, New Zealand, Taiwan and South Korea. While trade with Taiwan shrank by more than 25 percent, trade with the US declined by 12 percent.

Oil Market Dynamics Change

It was reported earlier last month that China's crude oil imports from Russia soared 55 percent from a year earlier to a record level. Russia also displaced Saudi Arabia as the top supplier for China even as refiners cashed in on discounted supplies amid sanctions on Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.

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Imports of Russian oil were about 8.42 million tonnes in that period, according to data from the Chinese General Administration of Customs.

"The data, which shows that Russia took back the top ranking of suppliers to the world's biggest crude oil importer after a gap of 19 months, indicates that Moscow is able to find buyers for its oil despite western sanctions, though it has had to slash prices," a Reuters analysis said.