China Monitor is our brand-new program that analyses China’s economic and foreign policies. It also aims to predict the consequences of Beijing’s policy for the global economy, the EU as well as Central and Eastern European countries such as Poland.
Date: 23 December 2021 Author: Patryk Szczotka
Ukraine Blocks the Transit of Trains from China
In early December this year, Ukraine has blocked the transit of trains from the Commonwealth of Independent States and the People’s Republic of China (PRC). These actions are an attempt to exert pressure on Poland to issue more entry permits for trucks.
According to the website of the Russian government, the talks between the leaders of the two countries lasted about an hour and a half. During this time all major issues were discussed – from security guarantees for Russia in Europe to the emerging new alliances in the Asia-Pacific region.[i] A day earlier, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov announced that the leaders would likewise discuss tensions in Europe and the “aggressive” rhetoric of the US and NATO.[ii] Moreover, the Russian idea of preparing and organizing a summit of five permanent members of the UN Security Council was deliberated.[iii] The establishment of an independent financial system was also consulted.[iv] Putin announced that he will attend the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Beijing in February 2022. The Russian president highlighted that 2022 and 2023 will mark the Year of Sports Exchange in China and Russia.[v]
Xi praised Russia for its support in defending its core interests. This year, the two sides officially announced the renewal of the Treaty of Good-Neighborliness and Friendly Cooperation. The General Secretary of the CCP mentioned progress in the synergy of the Belt and Road Initiative and the Eurasian Economic Union. Additionally, Xi noted the importance of further activity within the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the BRICS format. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the PRC, Russia supports the positions of the Chinese government with respect to Taiwan and opposes the emergence of “small groups” in the Asia-Pacific region.[vi]
It is also worth looking at economic data. China’s Ministry of Commerce expects China-Russia trade to set a new high in 2021, which is estimated at USD 140 billion. China remained Russia’s largest trading partner for the 12th consecutive year. China’s exports to Russia totaled CNY 384.49 billion (USD 60.36 billion), up 21.9%, while imports from Russia reached CNY 458.92 billion (USD 71.98 billion).
There is a great convergence in the global policies of China and Russia, particularly in their attempts to deprive the US of its hegemonic position. Both countries are against the formation of new US alliances in the Indo-Pacific that strengthen America in the region. Beijing and Moscow are creating their own cooperative organizations to push their adversaries out of the region. Putin was also one of the first leaders to announce his presence at the Winter Olympics in Beijing, which is good news for the PRC given the diplomatic boycott of Western countries encouraged by the US. Economic data may give optimism to both countries, though Russia expects more investment instead of mainly draining their natural resources, which account for about 70% of Russia’s exports to China.
[i] China ready to work with Russia, CSTO to support peace, stability in region — Xi Jinping, https://tass.com/politics/1376087
[ii] Putin and Xi to discuss ‘aggressive’ talk from U.S. and NATO, Kremlin says, https://www.reuters.com/world/kremlin-says-putin-xi-discuss-tensions-europe-video-call-2021-12-14/
[iii] Russian, Chinese leaders to promote idea of holding UN Security Council summit in 2022, https://tass.com/world/1376039
[iv] China and Russia to establish independent financial systems: Russian media, https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202112/1241715.shtml
[v] Putin looking forward to in-person meeting with Xi Jinping in Beijing in February, https://tass.com/politics/1375819
[vi] President Xi Jinping Had a Virtual Meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, https://www.fmprc.gov.cn/mfa_eng/zxxx_662805/202112/t20211215_10470186.html
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