China’s friendship with Moscow becomes more limited

Moscow China

Despite having strong ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin and criticizing the West for the sanctions imposed on Russia, China‘s President Xi Jinping has not intervened to assist Moscow.

According to Radio Free Europe, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), a Chinese-led development bank, suspended all business with Russia and Belarus on March 3, a possible sign that Beijing and Moscow’s relationship is reaching its limits. Similarly, the Shanghai-based New Development Bank ceased operations with Russia on the same day.

Meanwhile, many companies, including PayPal and American Express, announced on Sunday that they would suspend operations in Russia and Belarus due to the ongoing military operation in Ukraine. This comes just one day after credit card and payment giants Mastercard and Visa announced that they were ceasing operations in Russia and that their cards issued by Russian banks would no longer work outside the country.

“In response to Russia’s ongoing, unjustified attack on the people of Ukraine, American Express has suspended all operations in Russia.” As a result, globally issued American Express cards will no longer be accepted at merchants or ATMs in Russia, according to a statement from American Express. However, economic ties between the countries have strengthened in recent years, with bilateral trade soaring to make China Russia’s largest trading partner as the countries sought to deal more in Chinese yuan, which is not part of the US-dollar financial system, according to Radio Free Europe.

The strengthening of ties between Moscow and Beijing was highlighted by a meeting on February 5 during the Winter Olympics between President Vladimir Putin and Chairman Xi Jinping, their first face-to-face meeting in more than two years.

When Xi visited Putin on June 5, 2019, the China-Russia Comprehensive Partnership of Coordination for a New Era was signed. It was his eighth visit to Russia since 2013, highlighting the two leaders’ growing ties.

According to Al Jazeera, despite Beijing’s refusal to call Putin’s actions in Ukraine an “invasion” and its condemnation of Western-led sanctions, Chinese state-owned financial institutions have been quietly withdrawing from Russia’s economy. The moves reflect Beijing’s careful balancing act as it seeks to strengthen ties with Moscow without openly violating sanctions, which could jeopardize access to key Western export markets and the US dollar-centric international financial system, according to the media outlet.