According to CNN, Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Beijing Winter Olympics opening ceremony. The two leaders agreed to strengthen collaboration, and the Russian oil giant pledged to raise its exports to China over the next ten years.

Beijing’s diplomatic and military ties with Moscow seem strong on the surface. Although, their economic loyalties are hard to tell. In particular, the US and Europe threatened to hit the Russian economy hard if Moscow invaded Ukraine.

According to the report, Russia is heavily reliant on China in commerce, while China is not. CNN Business said that China is Russia’s leading trading partner, accounting for 16% of the country’s international marketing. 

China’s economy is already on shaky ground, with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicting the economy will grow by only 4.8 percent this year, down from 8 percent in 2021. With the housing crisis and sluggish consumer spending weighing on growth rates, China’s government has less incentive to tie its country’s fortunes to Moscow.

On the other hand, Russia’s importance is significantly lower, with commerce between the two nations accounting for only 2% of China’s total trade. In contrast, the EU and the US account for far more.

Alex Capri, a researcher at the Hinrich Foundation, a global trade advisory firm, said that Beijing needs to be very careful about getting involved in a conflict between NATO and Russia over Ukraine, some of which China cannot resolve.

A new report by analysts at the Euro-Asia Group also says that China’s trade with the US and Europe is nine times larger than Russia’s. As a result, Beijing is likely reshaping Moscow’s calculations in China’s favor.

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