China's President Xi Jinping has instructed his government to deepen economic ties with Russia despite his months-long public distance from the Kremlin amid its humiliating battlefield defeats in Ukraine, the Wall Street Journal reported on Dec. 14, citing policy advisers to Beijing.
The bilateral trade relationship, which will likely be further strengthened with China’s plans to increase imports of Russian oil and gas, as well as stepping up its investment in Russian railway and port infrastructure, has “become a lifeline to Moscow in the face of Western pressure,” according to the report.
While Xi appeared to be distancing himself from Russian President Vladimir Putin in recent months amid the West’s warning against siding with Russia, whose leadership is waging a brutal war against Ukraine, “China has since moved to cement their cooperation,” the Wall Street Journal said.
The report added that an increased financial transaction in Russian and Chinese currency, rather than the euro or dollar, has helped Beijing widen its circulation of yuan, helping the two authoritarian states insulate against potential future sanctions. The U.S. said it sees no signs of China providing weapons to Russia, but Beijing has not condemned Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine.
Russian business daily Vedomosti recently reported that Xi-Putin talks to discuss 2022 events could take place in late December, likely virtually.