Monday, June 24, 2024
Monday June 24, 2024
Monday June 24, 2024

China’s dual-use goods fuel Russia’s war machine



Beijing supplies non-military items crucial to Moscow’s military efforts, despite Western sanctions

As the Ukraine war drags on, the strategic relationship between China and Russia has become increasingly significant. Although China has not directly provided Russia with weapons, it has been supplying a vast array of goods that bolster Russia’s military capabilities. These items, categorized as “dual-use” because they can serve both civilian and military purposes, include semiconductor chips, navigation equipment, jet parts, and ball bearings. This flow of goods has continued despite Western efforts to curb such transactions through sanctions. 

According to the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), China’s export of these dual-use goods has been substantial and critical for Russia, especially since the conflict’s escalation in 2022. The CSIS data reveals that China is the largest single exporter of these key military goods to Russia. These goods, often passing through third-party countries or shell companies in more Russia-friendly regions, have helped Russia mitigate the impact of Western sanctions and maintain its war effort.

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The relationship between China and Russia extends beyond mere economic transactions. Politically, both nations have found common ground in countering Western influence. For China, supporting Russia indirectly by supplying these dual-use goods allows it to maintain a facade of neutrality while still aiding an ally. Meanwhile, Russia benefits from a steady supply of necessary components that keep its military machinery running. The partnership is mutually beneficial, as evidenced by the growing trade volumes and frequent high-level meetings between President Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping.

Sky News:

Sky News highlights how China’s exports of dual-use goods to Russia have significantly aided Moscow’s war efforts. The report details various items China supplies, such as semiconductor chips, navigation equipment, jet parts, and ball bearings, which Russia uses to fuel its military. Despite Western sanctions, these goods continue to flow into Russia, underscoring the limitations of such punitive measures.

The CSIS data, prominently featured in the Sky News article, shows China as the leading exporter of key military goods to Russia. The cumulative data from March 2022 to July 2023 illustrates China’s dominant position, with Hong Kong as the second-largest exporter. The dual-use nature of these goods, which allows them to be imported for civilian purposes, makes it difficult for sanctions to block their passage effectively.

Sky News points out that as Russia’s high-tech equipment has been depleted on the battlefield, it has increasingly relied on lower-grade equipment, which is more likely to come from dual-use suppliers like China. This trend has made it challenging for the West to restrict these supplies. Goods from EU nations such as France and Germany also find their way to Russia, further complicating the situation.

The article also discusses the political dimensions of the China-Russia relationship. As Putin and Xi meet in Beijing, their discussions will likely focus on strengthening their trade ties, with China keen to portray itself as a peacemaker. However, the West’s attempts to leverage Xi’s influence over Putin have so far been ineffective. The relationship benefits China as well, with Russia becoming its top supplier of crude oil in 2023, overtaking Saudi Arabia.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s recent visit to Beijing underscored the growing concern in the West about China’s role in supporting Russia. Blinken threatened greater action to clamp down on the supply chains facilitating these dual-use goods. The Sky News report suggests that Chinese banks involved in these transactions could soon face US sanctions, highlighting the geopolitical tensions surrounding this issue.

CNBC Coverage:

CNBC’s coverage centres on Vladimir Putin’s state visit to China and its implications for the ongoing war in Ukraine. The article emphasizes the symbolic and practical significance of Putin’s visit, marking his second trip to China in less than a year. This visit comes as Western nations, led by the US, intensify pressure on China to cease its economic and industrial support for Russia.

Putin’s visit to Beijing, the first since his new term began, highlights the deepening relationship between China and Russia. The two leaders, Putin and Xi Jinping are expected to discuss ways to strengthen their “no limits” partnership, originally announced nearly two years ago. This partnership has been tested by the West, which seeks to end China’s support that enables Russia to circumvent sanctions and sustain its war effort.

The CNBC report outlines how China’s bilateral trade with Russia soared by 26 per cent to a record $240 billion last year, reflecting the robust economic ties between the two nations. Analysts quoted in the article suggest that Beijing and Moscow will explore ways to expand their trade further while avoiding Western sanctions. This includes potential cooperation in industry, high-tech sectors, outer space, artificial intelligence, and renewable energy.

The article also highlights the geopolitical stakes of this partnership. For Putin, the visit is an opportunity to showcase his alliance with a major global power and to signal that he still has influential friends despite his international isolation. For Xi, the meeting reaffirms China’s support for Russia, which is crucial for counterbalancing US influence, especially regarding issues like Taiwan and the South China Sea.

Washington’s concerns about Beijing’s role in aiding Russia are also featured prominently. The US has accused China of providing satellite intelligence, parts for fighter jets, and other equipment that bolster Russia’s military capabilities. In response, the US has sanctioned several Chinese companies and threatened further actions against Chinese banks if they continue their transactions with Russia.

CNBC’s coverage underscores the strategic importance of the China-Russia relationship in the context of global geopolitics. The article notes that the deepening ties between these two authoritarian states could lead to more significant and potentially dangerous activities in the future. This includes increased support for each other’s geopolitical ambitions, such as China’s stance on Taiwan and Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

The Independent:

The Independent’s coverage mirrors much of the content in the CNBC article but adds additional context and analysis. The article describes the red carpet welcome China extended to Vladimir Putin and the high stakes of his visit to Beijing. This state visit, closely watched by the West, comes amid mounting pressure from Western nations for China to halt its support for Russia’s military endeavours.

Putin’s visit to China is portrayed as both a symbolic and practical move. It’s his first trip abroad since beginning his new term as president, and it underscores the significance of the China-Russia partnership. The two leaders are expected to discuss ways to enhance their “no limits” partnership, with a focus on economic and industrial cooperation.

The Independent highlights the scale of China’s economic support for Russia, noting a 26 percent increase in bilateral trade to a record $240 billion last year. This economic relationship has helped Russia mitigate the impact of Western sanctions and maintain its military efforts in Ukraine. Analysts suggest that Beijing and Moscow will seek to expand their trade further, finding ways to sidestep Western restrictions.

The geopolitical implications of this partnership are significant. For Putin, the visit is a chance to demonstrate that he has powerful allies, despite his isolation on the global stage. For Xi, supporting Russia helps counterbalance US influence, particularly regarding contentious issues like Taiwan and the South China Sea.

The Independent also discusses the broader international response to China’s support for Russia. The US has accused China of providing dual-use goods and satellite intelligence that bolster Russia’s war capabilities. In response, the US has sanctioned several Chinese companies and warned of further actions against Chinese financial institutions involved in these transactions.

The article also touches on the European Union’s concerns about China’s role in the conflict. During a recent visit to France, Xi Jinping faced questions about China’s support for Russia, which overshadowed his intended charm offensive. Despite these tensions, Xi maintains that China is neutral in the Ukraine conflict and has not violated US sanctions.

The Independent’s coverage emphasizes the strategic depth of the China-Russia relationship and its implications for global geopolitics. The article concludes with expert opinions on the potential future developments of this partnership, highlighting the risks of increased cooperation between these two authoritarian states.


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