The visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Moscow in late March was presented by many Russian media as “the end of US hegemony”.
Vladimir Putin did not even rule out that Russia would increasingly switch to the yuan in foreign trade payments, abandoning the dollar and the euro. And according to the Bank of Russia, the share of the yuan in Russian foreign trade in 2022 increased from 0.5 per cent to 16 per cent. However, it is stated that this is the currency in which the actual payments were made, not the one in which the contracts were concluded.
Russia expects that China will be able to largely replace both export and import trade relations with the West.
The West, however, believed that Xi’s visit spoke of political unity – but not of a large-scale expansion of economic cooperation. The presidents signed statements on the development of partnerships until the end of the decade, but no specific large-scale projects were reported.
For Russia, in terms of individual countries, China was and remains its largest trade partner. But for China, Russia is not even in the top five.
In fact, the volume of trade with China even declined last year. A report on the strategic partnership between Russia and China was presented last September to the pro-Putin Valdai Discussion Club. According to its authors, although Beijing does not officially support anti-Russian sanctions and urges companies to resist Western pressure, businessmen in some cases prefer to err on the side of caution.
Russia counts on China, not least of all, as a supplier of industrial technologies to replace those prohibited by sanctions. But China itself is largely dependent on the US in terms of technology. And experts are highly doubtful that, for the sake of Moscow, Beijing will aggravate relations with Washington, even if today they are far from ideal.