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The growing partnership between China and Russia is yielding benefits for both countries.
The growing partnership between China and Russia is yielding benefits for both countries.

The growing partnership between China and Russia is yielding benefits for both countries.

In the nearly two years since Russia’s takeover of Ukraine, there has been an increase in collaboration between Russia and China in various aspects. In particular, there has been significant growth in political and economic connections between the two countries. With doubts surrounding the West’s commitment to supporting Ukraine and Taiwan, some speculate that Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin may now have an advantage. According to an article by Kawala Xie in the South China Morning Post, the recent meeting between the leaders of both countries in Beijing further solidified their positive relations, with Xi stating that it was a “strategic choice” for both nations to develop their bilateral ties.

On Wednesday in Beijing, Xi met with Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin and promised to further enhance the political and economic ties between the two countries at a “high-level”.

Xi, as quoted by the Chinese foreign ministry, stated that nurturing and advancing the relationship between China and Russia is a strategic decision made by both parties, considering the core interests of their respective peoples.

Both parties should utilize the benefits of political trust, economic compatibility, interconnected infrastructure, and cultural exchanges.

China and Russia have significantly strengthened their economic relationship. According to China’s customs data, bilateral trade between the two countries grew by 26.7 percent to over 218 billion USD from January to November. In addition, China has become Russia’s largest energy buyer, and last week, Russia’s Gazprom set a new daily record for gas deliveries to China. Russian Prime Minister Mishustin stated that more than 90 percent of this trade is now conducted in rubles or yuan, as Russia aims to reduce its reliance on the U.S. dollar and protect itself from international sanctions. In an article for The New York Times, Keith Bradsher described how China’s vehicle manufacturers have been the biggest beneficiaries of the booming trade with Russia.

The sales of high-end vehicles in Russia have drastically decreased, leading to a decrease in the overall size of the country’s automobile market. This market is now less than half the size of Germany’s. However, Alexander Gabuev, the director of the Carnegie Russia Eurasia Center, reports that lower-middle-class and impoverished Russian families, who make up the majority of soldiers fighting in the war, have increased their purchases of affordable Chinese cars.

According to Mr. Gabuev, a contributing factor is the financial compensation being provided by the Russian government and insurers to the families of soldiers who have been killed or injured. This compensation can amount to as much as $90,000 in the event of a death.

Russian consumers primarily purchase cars with internal combustion engines, while Chinese consumers have quickly transitioned to electric cars, resulting in a surplus of internal combustion cars in China.

According to GlobalData Automotive, Chinese car manufacturers have captured 55% of the Russian market, a significant increase from their 8% share in 2021. [Source]

Collaboration has increased in the context of Russia’s war with Ukraine. Recent reports have revealed that Russia has utilized Chinese intermediaries to circumvent global technology bans. A New York Times investigation found that from March 2022 to September 2023, China and Hong Kong accounted for 85% of semiconductors imported by Russia, a significant increase from the 27% before the conflict. Additionally, a Russian ecommerce site imported $150 million worth of hardware from China this year. In a recent article for the Atlantic Council, Markus Garlauskas, Joseph Webster, and Emma C. Verges detailed how China’s support for Russia has hindered Ukraine’s counteroffensive.

According to publicly available trade data, an increase in the importation of Chinese-made goods with significant military applications played a crucial part in Russia’s ability to fortify its defenses in Ukrainian territory and maintain their supplies to withstand the opposing attack. Despite the influx of weapons and ammo from NATO nations, these efforts are being countered by Chinese imports of essential materials that are essential for Russia to sustain its determined efforts to retain control of Ukrainian land.

Chinese-manufactured excavation and soil-moving machinery has significantly aided Russia in fortifying its presence in the occupied Ukrainian territory. The significant rise in the import of vehicles, particularly heavy-duty trucks, has likely supported Russia’s military production, crucial for sustaining combat capability in a layered defense strategy. These Chinese vehicles also facilitate Russian military logistics in ensuring the constant movement of equipment and supplies to the front lines.

A significant increase in the import of ball bearings from the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has potentially allowed for the manufacturing of tanks. Additionally, the ongoing supply of silicon chips from the PRC has supplied essential parts for Russia to revive its weapons production. This has allowed Russian artillery, missiles, and drones to continue causing destruction on Ukrainian forces and civilian areas during counterattacks.

Collectively, these resources have enabled Russia to establish a strong, durable, and diverse defense against Ukraine’s counterattack. Without them, it is uncertain if Russia could have maintained its defense of occupied Ukrainian land.

The United States intelligence report, which was released this week, stated that China and Russia, as well as Iran and Cuba, have intensified their interference in foreign elections. This aligns with the efforts of both countries to influence the U.S. midterm elections, as pointed out by Joseph Webster in his article for The Diplomat.

Both Beijing and Moscow have a common goal of weakening the Western alliance, but China’s priority of stabilizing oil markets may conflict with Russia’s desire to support Trump’s campaign.

The two strongest authoritarian governments in the world are expected to have some level of success in their efforts to interfere in other countries. The DPP is likely to win the presidential election, but Beijing’s use of economic sanctions and information campaigns in Taiwan will likely result in the KMT gaining control of the legislature.

Both China and Russia are using informational and economic tactics to undermine the electoral chances of their adversaries and bolster their favored candidates. These efforts by authoritarian regimes present difficult challenges for liberal democracies.