Beijing also fully supported Wednesday’s comments made earlier this week by China’s ambassador to Ukraine. “China will never attack Ukraine. We will help, especially economically,” Fan Xianrong said in a press release from the government of the Lviv region.
Fears that Chinese companies could face US sanctions over ties to Russia have fueled an epic sell-off in Chinese stocks. last days. That slowdown was reversed on Wednesday when Beijing promised it would pursue policies to support its ailing economy and keep financial markets stable.
Beijing and Moscow share a strategic interest in challenging the West. However, Chinese banks cannot afford to lose access to US dollars, and many Chinese businesses cannot afford be deprived of American technology.
While China is Russia’s No. 1 trading partner, Beijing has other priorities. Trade between the two countries accounted for only 2% of China’s total trade. According to Chinese customs statistics last year, the share of the European Union and the United States is much larger.
Here are some of the measures Beijing has taken over the past few weeks to distance itself from isolated and crumbling Russian economy.
Let the ruble fall
China’s currency, the yuan, does not trade completely freely, but moves within limits set by People’s Bank of China (PBOC) officials. Last week, they doubled the size of the ruble’s trading range, allowing the Russian currency to fall faster.
The ruble has already lost more than 20% its value against the dollar and euro since the beginning of the war in Ukraine. By allowing the Russian currency to fall against the yuan, Beijing is doing Moscow no favors.
Sitting on reserves
The most significant help China could offer Russia is Moscow’s $90 billion in yuan reserves, Alicia Garcia-Herrero, Natixis’ chief Asia-Pacific economist, wrote in a research report on Tuesday.
The sanctions froze about $315 billion in Russian reserves – or about half of the total – as Western countries banned dealing with the Russian central bank.
The NBK has not yet commented on its position on these reserves.
If China allowed Moscow to convert its yuan reserves into US dollars or euros, “it would certainly help Russia get out of the current impasse,” Garcia-Herrero said. However, “the reputational risk of a potential violation of Western sanctions would be a huge move for the People’s Bank of China and therefore makes it highly unlikely,” she said.
“The long-term benefits of a rapprochement with Russia may not be comparable to the impact of a sudden loss of Western investor interest in China,” she added.
Retention of aircraft parts
This means that Russian airlines may run out of spare parts within a few weeks or fly aircraft without changing equipment as often as is recommended for safe operation.
Earlier this month, a senior Russian official said China refused to send aircraft parts to Russia as Moscow seeks alternative sources of supply.
Valery Kudinov, head of aircraft airworthiness at the Russian Air Transport Agency, told the Russian state news agency TASS that Russia will be looking to source parts from countries including Turkey and India after failing to get them from China.
“As far as I know… China refused,” Kudinov said.
In response to a CNN request for comment, China’s foreign ministry reaffirmed Beijing’s position. opponent of the sanctions, adding that China and Russia will maintain “normal economic and trade cooperation.”
Freezing investment in infrastructure
The World Bank suspended all of its programs in Russia and Belarus after the invasion of Ukraine. He has not approved any new loans or investments in Russia since 2014 and none in Belarus since 2020.
Perhaps even more surprising is the decision by the Beijing-based Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank to do the same. In a statement earlier this month, he said he was suspending all of his activities related to Russia and Belarus “as the war unfolds in Ukraine.” He added that the move was “in the interest” of the bank.
– CNN’s Beijing Bureau and Hannah Ritchie in Sydney contributed to this article.