China’s imports from Russia surged in April even as the West imposes sweeping sanctions for its invasion of Ukraine.
Imports from its northern neighbour – which is a major source of oil, gas, coal and commodities for China – jumped by 56.6%, compared with an increase of 26.4% in March from the previous year, according to trade data published on Monday.
“It seems Beijing stepped up imports of key energies, raw materials and grains,“ said Lu Ting. chief China economist at Nomura Holdings in Hong Kong.
He said that in volume terms, imports of crude oil rose 6.6% in April from minus 14% a month earlier, while coal imports jumped 8.4% from minus almost 40% a month earlier. Soybean imports accelerated to 8.4% in April from an 18.4% fall a month earlier.
Imports of iron ore and copper remained in negative territory.
Rising energy prices would likely also have accounted for a significant portion of the increased value of Russian imports bought by China.
Chinese exports to Russia fell almost 26% in dollar terms in April from a year earlier as the country struggles with sanctions imposed by the West since it invaded Ukraine.
Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, an intervention Moscow described as a “special military operation” designed to demilitarise and “denazify” its southern neighbour.
Ukrainian forces have mounted stiff resistance and Western countries and their allies have imposed sweeping sanctions on Russia in an effort to force it to withdraw its forces.
China has declined to call Russia’s action an invasion and has repeatedly said its trade with Russia remains normal.
However, some Chinese firms are suspending sales in Russia. Drone giant DJI Technology Co said it would temporarily suspend business in Russia and Ukraine to ensure its products are not used in combat.
China’s Commerce Ministry has noted that some foreign companies have forced their Chinese partners to pick a side in the Ukraine conflict, adding that Chinese firms and individuals cannot succumb to outside pressure and publicise improper comments.
China would take necessary measures to safeguard the interests of its firms, it added.
• Jim Pollard, Reuters
This report was amended to note the rise in Chinese imports.
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