Deliveries of China-manufactured advanced machinery such as microchips are up tenfold since the beginning of 2022, showcasing a booming bilateral trade relationship that has largely circumvented Western sanctions, the FT reported on Jan. 3.
Russia needs microchips and other advanced machine tools to manufacture missiles, drones, and other sophisticated military products. The U.S. has sought to choke off the flow of hi-tech gadgets to Russia, but China is one of the world's largest producers of microchips, rare earth minerals, and is Moscow's largest trading partner.
"China and Russia share the same political interest, which is to challenge and confront the U.S. The fact is Russia has been cut off from importing European machinery, it has no choice but to rely on China," Michael Raska, an assistant professor at Singapore’s S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, told the FT.
Beijing maintains it does not provide lethal aid to Moscow, but China's shipments of products including energy, machinery, consumer goods, industrial tools, and cars are bolstering Russia's economy in the face of Western sanctions. The IMF projects that Russia's economy will grow 1.1% in 2024.
Washington is reluctant to use financial sanctions to target Chinese companies helping Russia because doing so could spark another global trade war, according to Emily Kilcrease, a former U.S. trade official.