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A “Superior Relationship”: How the Invasion of Ukraine Has Deepened the Sino-Russian Partnership

Elizabeth Wishnick CLM Issue 76 June 2023
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Xi Jinping meeting with Vladimir Putin
Relations between China and Russia have deepened since 2022, although each country is now more careful in messaging, especially to foreign audiences, about their partnership. The priority of Russia for China comes at the expense of its previous partnership with Ukraine and Chinese economic interests there. China now aspires to take on a role in any future peace process for Ukraine, but Xi and Putin, by and large, speak with one voice on what they call “the Ukrainian crisis.” The deepening partnership is reflected in their synergy in the information space, their ongoing cooperation in technology and defense, and energy and agriculture deals. Despite these trends, their partnership is also one of interdependence, whereby Beijing is willing to accept costs to derive perceived benefits. Even as Russia becomes more economically dependent on China, Xi’s ability to restrain or even influence Putin’s thinking remains untested.

At a time when many world leaders have reassessed their views of both Russia and Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping is doubling down on his support for Russia and his “dear friend” Vladimir. This should have been a bellwether year for Sino-Russian relations, yet the tumultuous events resulting from the Russian invasion of Ukraine actually have changed the partnership very little as it continues to deepen. One challenge to understanding the current phase of the Sino-Russian partnership is that Chinese officials downplay its significance with European audiences but highlight its consistency for Chinese and Russian audiences. In Brussels we saw PRC Ambassador to the EU Fu Cong telling The Financial Times that China and Russia “are not in a military alliance, and we may not see eye to eye on all issues with Russia.”[1] This contrasts with PRC Ambassador Li Zhanhui’s earlier comments to Russia’s TASS News Agency about “the even more brilliant results” the Sino-Russian partnership will bring and their deepening “back-to-back cooperation,” referring to the strategic benefits of avoiding a two-front war.[2] To a Chinese audience, Li Zhanhui has emphasized how the partnership supports PRC priorities, such as building a community of common destiny and developing the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). “The more turbulent the world is, the more China-Russia relations should move forward steadily,” he has asserted.[3] At the March 20–22 summit, Xi and Putin used new language to describe their partnership. They dropped the “no limits” formulation that caused such consternation and confusion in the West. The PRC Foreign Ministry had used that phrase in the February 4, 2022, Sino-Russian joint statement to convey that an alliance was not necessary since the partnership had an unbounded future.[4] Twenty days later, Russia invaded Ukraine, leading outside observers to conclude that China will go along with whatever Putin decides to do. PRC and Russian officials now claim that their partnership is “superior” to Cold War alliances (but they reject any portrayal of their relationship as a military alliance). The March 21, 2023, joint statement restates China’s “three noes” [no alliance, no confrontation, no directing against third parties] that has characterized China’s foreign policy since the Deng Xiaoping era. The joint statement also emphasizes that the partnership has a solid foundation, it is rooted in the domestic interests of both countries, and the external environment is not the main driver. This is a position that key PRC Russia experts have long advocated.[5] There were still echoes of the “no limits” formulation in Xi’s remarks to the Russian media, however, when he revealed that he and Putin had “agreed that Sino-Russian ties have gone far beyond bilateral relations ...”[6] Pro-Russian Neutrality in Russia’s War on Ukraine Without considering the priority Beijing places on the Sino-Russian partnership, it is difficult to understand China’s apparent about-face on Ukraine. Nearly ten years ago, on December 5, 2013, China and Ukraine signed an agreement establishing a strategic partnership and highlighting that “firm mutual support on issues concerning national sovereignty, unity, and territorial integrity is an important part of the strategic partnership between the two countries.”[7] The joint declaration also called attention to Ukraine’s decision to give up its nuclear weapons and China’s pledge to provide “security guarantees to Ukraine” in the case of any nuclear aggression against it. Prior to the war in Ukraine, China was Ukraine’s top trade partner, and Beijing saw Ukraine as a key transit point for BRI trade with Europe and a source of agricultural imports. Beijing had an interest in developing Ukrainian ports, and China’s agribusiness giant COFCO International had invested $50 million in Mariupol (now largely destroyed and under Russian occupation) for a transshipment facility. Chinese companies also saw opportunity in Ukraine’s energy sector and they had purchased Ukrainian military equipment, including the Varyag aircraft carrier, China’s first, and now refurbished as the Liaoning.[8] Despite the 2013 agreement and a record of economic and military cooperation with Ukraine, after the Russian invasion of Ukraine China has staked out a type of “pro-Russian neutrality.” China claims to be impartial and it aspires to play a diplomatic role, but in his long-awaited phone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on April 26, 2023, Xi did not even mention Russia, nor did he refer to the conflict as a war. Not surprisingly, in Xi’s conversation with Zelensky, there was no discussion of the need for Russia to withdraw its troops, though Xi did express support for Ukraine’s sovereignty.[9] The timing of the call—on the anniversary of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident—highlights China’s concerns about threats to Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhiya nuclear power plant and Russian use of nuclear threats more broadly during the war, an issue about which Xi has been most vocal in expressing concern. China’s Position on Ukraine The February 23, 2023 PRC Foreign Ministry’s position paper on Ukraine mentions Russia in the specific context of the need for dialogue between Russia and Ukraine, the desirability of exchanges of POWs, and the continuation of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, negotiated by Russia, Turkey, and the UN, to export Ukrainian grain.[10] For fourteen months, world leaders have been urging China to help end the war, and even U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken left open the possibility of working with China on an eventual peace settlement—if the Chinese government accepts Russia as the aggressor and agrees to play a role in ensuring a durable peace, not one that serves as a respite for a second Russian war on Ukraine.[11] These are big “ifs,” especially in light of the comments by PRC Ambassador to France Lu Shaye on French television that questioned publicly the sovereignty of the former Soviet states under international law.[12] Thereafter the PRC Foreign Ministry claimed these were the ambassador’s personal views and not the country’s official position,[13] but they still cast a shadow over Xi’s statements to Zelensky and raised more questions about China’s views of post–Cold War territorial settlements. When, right after the Xi-Zelensky call, China supported an April 26, 2023 UN General Assembly resolution on the Council of Europe that mentions Russian aggression in Ukraine and Georgia there was hope that China was changing its position more substantially.[14] Russian media immediately sought to downplay such a prospect.[15] Chinese diplomats ultimately clarified that there had been no change in the PRC position. Although China initially had abstained from the paragraph that notes Russian aggression, it ultimately voted for the resolution as a whole.[16] For the most part, Beijing has been successful in asserting message control on Russia and Ukraine. Since the beginning of the war, the Chinese government has restricted critical commentary on the war and on China-Russia relations, despite a few prominent dissonant voices. One highly placed commentator predicted that China will become more isolated internationally as a result of its position on Ukraine.[17] A year later, once China was positioning itself as a potential peace broker, the same expert argued that Beijing’s peace plan has “no realistic foundation” as developments on the battlefield will be the most decisive.[18] PRC scholars and retired officials who have spoken out against the war more typically focus their criticism on Russian policies rather than on Chinese positions.[19] Despite such dissonant voices, the dominant view among PRC elites remains optimistic about Russia’s ability to maintain its positions in Ukraine and about the staying power of the Sino-Russian partnership.[20] This belief stems from continued confidence in Russia’s ability to prevail on the battlefield in a war of attrition and an assessment of waning U.S. and EU military support for Ukraine.[21] A wargame by the PLA’s Academy of Military Sciences concludes that the war will likely result in a stalemate by the summer, a time when U.S. support for the Ukrainian military may run into political headwinds, thus providing an opportunity for a PRC-led peace initiative.[22] Synergy in the Information Space and a High-Tech Partnership Despite claims of neutrality, PRC media echo Russian talking points on the war. This includes repeating spurious claims the Russian Ministry of Defense has made about U.S. biolabs in Ukraine, a point that recalls earlier Sino-Russian propaganda falsely accusing a U.S. military lab in Fort Detrick, Maryland, of being the source of the COVID-19 pandemic.[23] China and Russia are the only two countries that refused to sign off on a joint statement condemning Russian aggression in Ukraine at the February 2023 summit of G20 finance ministers in India.[24] Following a trend that began with the COVID-19 pandemic, China and Russia continue to develop synergy in the information space. In addition to their collaboration in propaganda, Russian and Chinese officials have long had a shared interest in promoting what they call “internet sovereignty” to prevent any organization of domestic interests and to share any information that could threaten their respective regimes. In 2015 they signed a bilateral agreement on information security, and they have since promoted similar multilateral initiatives at the United Nations and within the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Documents that Systema (RFE/RL’s Investigative Unit) obtained show how the Cyberspace Administration of China and Russia’s internet regulator, Roskomnadzor, have been sharing best practices on blocking VPNs and implementing internet censorship for at least five years in their efforts to contain Western influence and to prevent it from fueling anti-regime protests. Cooperation has involved exchanges of technical experts and high-level talks.[25] In recent years, China and Russia have made cooperation in the tech sector a top priority, especially in AI, robotics, space, biotechnology, and telecommunications.[26] The emphasis on sales of energy resources in economic relations with China has long rankled Russia, which chafes at being perceived of as a resource appendage of its neighbor. However, technology is an area where the two countries pool their different strengths (Russia’s basic research and China’s industrial applications) and compensate for difficulties obtaining Western technologies.[27] In AI, for example, China is a leader in developing the technology, but Russia has the experience in applying it to unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in Syria.[28] Sino-Russian cooperation in satellite technology, first initiated in 2014, is moving forward. Russia’s GLONASS and China’s BeiDou are working to improve the technical compatibility of their systems, potentially paving the way to promote joint use in third markets.[29] In September 2022, Russia and China agreed to deploy three GLONASS stations in China (Urumqi, Changchun, and Shanghai) and three BeiDou system stations in Russia (Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy, Obninsk, and Irkutsk) to achieve more reliable navigation.[30] After the U.S. Department of Commerce placed Huawei on its Entity List in 2019, the PRC telecom giant turned to Russia for wide-ranging cooperation.[31] Prior to Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine, Huawei and its Russian counterparts had developed partnerships in cloud computing and security, video surveillance and facial recognition, equipment testing, and tech education.[32] Despite some reporting by Russian media that Huawei was scaling back some of its Russia-based operations in 2022, it appears that the company has merely reorganized its distribution networks in Russia, and Huawei products continue to be available.[33] Prior to 2022, the Russian government had sought to balance its deepening tech ties with China with its desire for “internet sovereignty,” and it tried to avoid undue dependence on Chinese telecommunications technologies.[34] This strategy has proved to be untenable in light of the international sanctions on Russia since 2022. In April 2023 Bloomberg published a leaked assessment by the Russian Ministry of Digital Development, Communications, and Mass Media that shows mounting concern in the Russian government about the country’s growing dependence on Chinese companies, such as Huawei, and the potential resultant security risks. This assessment reportedly was shared with the Russian Armed Forces and Security Council, which urged caution in reliance on Chinese technology to avoid complete dependence.[35] The Bloomberg article resonates widely in the Russian media, and many outlets have republished the article verbatim.[36] Russia’s Kaspersky Lab had already reported a growing number of cases of Chinese hacking of Russian firms, including in the defense sector, as Sino-Russian technology collaboration deepened prior to 2022.[37] Russian intelligence services have been increasingly uneasy about the scope of Chinese intelligence-gathering in Russia, even publicizing cases of Russians being apprehended for spying for China.[38] Deepening Military Cooperation U.S. and allied leaders have been concerned about potential PRC military assistance for Russia’s war in Ukraine and they have warned Beijing repeatedly against crossing this line. Leaked U.S. intelligence documents reveal that Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service claims that China’s Central Military Commission has agreed to sell weapons to Russia incrementally but it has wanted to keep it secret.[39] However, other leaked documents show China ignoring a request for aid from Russia’s Wagner Group in early 2023.[40] China has angrily denied that it has sent or would send lethal aid to Russia—a military spokesperson called such allegations “sinister” and “pure fabrication.”[41] As a Global Times editorial puts it, “China is not obliged to repeatedly ‘prove its innocence’ on this issue.”[42] For the most part, this appears to be true, though some Chinese dual-use technologies have been found on Ukrainian battlefields and sanctions have been imposed on a small number of Chinese companies.[43] Nevertheless, U.S. officials have been sounding out the G-7 allies about imposing sanctions on China in the event it provides more substantial direct military aid to Russia.[44] Analysts warn that even non-lethal aid, such as semi-conductors and trucks, can contribute to the Russian war effort.[45] Sino-Russian military cooperation has continued and even deepened since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, belying Beijing’s claim of impartiality in the conflict. Newly appointed PRC defense minister Li Shangfu chose Russia as the destination for his first foreign visit and he has hailed Putin’s contribution to world peace.[46] He identified three areas for future military cooperation with Russia, including sharing combat experience and intelligence, and participating in joint military exercises and patrols. Putin, who met with PRC Defense Minister Li, made a point of emphasizing that Sino-Russian military cooperation was occurring globally, but he highlighted the Pacific theater, as if to emphasize Russia’s potential military contribution to PRC security interests.[47] Increased Economic Cooperation Is China backstopping the Russian economy? To be sure, Sino-Russian trade has increased in the past year—the total volume in 2022 reached $190 billion, a 34 percent increase over the 2021 figures. In 2022, Chinese imports from Russia nearly doubled, reflecting increased energy purchases, and PRC exports to Russia increased by 17.8 percent. Even though Russia accounts only for 3 percent of China’s trade, the closer Sino-Russian economic ties are much more meaningful for Russia. Prior to Russia’s 2014 invasion of Ukraine, China accounted for just 10 percent of its total trade, but it reached 18 percent by the end of 2021.[48] Although the Russian government stopped publishing foreign trade statistics in the spring of 2022, some Western analysts estimate that as much as 40 percent of Russian imports now come from China, placing China in second place after North Korea in terms of dependence on the Chinese economy.[49] China has benefited from increased oil and gas imports from Russia. It now receives 25 percent of its oil, 23 percent of its coal, 10 percent of its LNG, and 25 percent of its pipeline gas from Russia. But China is still far from replacing the EU as a destination for Russian gas, as China only accounts for 15 percent of Russia’s pipeline gas exports and 20 percent of its LNG exports. Because the oil embargo imposed on Russia did not begin until December 5, 2022, energy experts Erica Downs and Tatiana Mitrova caution that Russian dependence on the Chinese market is likely to grow—in 2022 China had already accounted for 35 percent of Russian oil exports.[50] According to a Finnish analyst, China has been receiving 16–17 percent discounts on Russian oil purchases,[51] and even before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Russia was China’s cheapest supplier of pipeline gas.[52] Although a deal for a Power of Siberia 2 pipeline (from eastern Siberia across Mongolia to China) that Putin had been touting as largely completed was not signed at the March 2023 Sino-Russian summit, it is likely that, if concluded, China will insist on steep discounts there as well. One analysis shows that in 2014 Gazprom accepted the lowest price from China for Russian pipeline gas.[53] Even with the inducement of a low price, China may not be tempted to sign on to a second gas pipeline, however, preferring to obtain additional gas from Turkmenistan so as to avoid excessive dependence on Russian supplies. Although nuclear energy accounts for only 5 percent of China’s energy mix, cooperation with Russia in the nuclear field has been an important component of the Chinese leadership’s plans to expand nuclear power significantly by 2050.[54] A June 6, 2018, Sino-Russian agreement outlines a long-term basis for their joint efforts in nuclear energy. Russia pledged to build four VVER1200 nuclear reactors in Tianwan and Xudabao in China at a cost of $3.62 billion and to assist with additional projects exceeding another $15 billion for China’s fast reactor CFR-699 pilot project as well as with RITEG (Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator) for its space program.[55] After the March 2023 summit, Russian and Chinese nuclear energy officials agreed to collaborate in the production of highly enriched uranium fuel and the handling of spent fuel.[56] U.S. officials are concerned about Russia providing China with enriched uranium, which, with further processing, might be used to assist Beijing in expanding its nuclear weapons arsenal.[57] China aspires to be self-sufficient in fuel production, and a recent study assesses China’s current dependence on the Russian nuclear industry as relatively low.[58] Russia is now the world leader in nuclear energy, but China is catching up fast and it now competes with Russia globally for project construction.[59] Although energy products account for two-thirds of Sino-Russian trade, agriculture is another area that both sides hope to develop. In 2022 China benefited from increased Russian exports of food, which grew by 44 percent in terms of value and 36 percent by volume. China is now the top importer of rapeseed oil, poultry, beef, soybeans, oats, and flax seeds from Russia. Exports of Russian fish also jumped 46 percent by volume and 68 percent by value. The surge in food imports from Russia in part reflects the removal of Chinese COVID restrictions.[60] Chinese officials are optimistic about agricultural cooperation with Russia, claiming that the PRC is ready to triple its imports of Russian soybeans over the next two years. Because Russia already sends nearly 90 percent of its soybeans to China and the availability of additional land for their cultivation is questionable, a major expansion of their soybean trade may not be feasible. China is now willing to import wheat and barley from all over Russia, removing the rest of the phytosanitary barriers that had been in place since 1997 due to a pathogen in the country.[61] However, Chinese companies are cautious about increasing their investments in Russian agriculture due to the threat of counter-sanctions and the volatility of the ruble.[62] Interestingly, China is the top beneficiary of the Black Sea Grain Initiative that Russia has been threatening to scrap. According to Ukrainian statistics, China has received one-third of the 26 million tons of grain and corn transported along the Black Sea corridor since July 2022. In fact, 2022 proved to be a peak year for agricultural trade between Ukraine and China, though at steeply discounted prices.[63] A few days before a deal was reached by the United Nations and Turkey, PRC Foreign Minister Wang Yi put forward an initiative on global food security,[64] a theme that is also emphasized in China’s February 23, 2023 position paper on Ukraine.[65] Although China is the single largest recipient of Black Sea grain, some 55 percent goes to the developing countries.[66] Sino-Russian Interdependence Given the growing importance of the Chinese market for the Russian economy, some experts foresee Russia inevitably becoming China’s vassal, a viewpoint that Putin has rejected angrily and PRC officials also have refuted.[67] Alexander Gabuev, director of the Carnegie Russia Eurasia Centre in Berlin, argues that Russia is becoming more dependent on China than it ever was on Europe. Putin is willing to pay this price to prosecute Russia’s war on Ukraine, but Gabuev warns that in the future China may demand payback, for example, by curtailing Russian military cooperation with India or Vietnam. [68] Weak states, such as North Korea for example, however dependent, still have considerable agency. Despite its dependence on China for 90 percent of its trade, Chinese leaders have had little success in reining in North Korea’s provocative nuclear policies. Russia is not North Korea—Russia has considerable energy resources and military and other technologies that other states want to buy, and despite the sanctions, Russia has maintained relationships with countries in the Middle East, Africa, Central Asia, and Southeast Asia. In the Arctic, where Russia finds itself increasingly isolated, Russian officials continue to engage with a range of partners, despite some recent overtures to China regarding investments.[69] Interdependence is a more accurate description of the Sino-Russian partnership as China needs Russian energy, assistance with its civilian nuclear program, support in the UN, military cooperation, and the appearance (if not the reality as of yet) of joint action in the Indo-Pacific. Despite uncertainties and foreign policy costs to China of a deepening partnership with Russia due to its ongoing war in Ukraine, this association brings substantial geostrategic and economic benefits to Beijing. Ivan Zuenko, a China expert at the Moscow State International Relations Institute (MGIMO), emphasizes that “For China, Russia is needed not as a weak, unstable state, of which there are so many on our continent, but as a strong predictable foreign policy partner and a reliable supplier of strategic resources.”[70] This explains Beijing’s sudden motivation, after sitting on the sidelines for a year, to engage in diplomacy in Ukraine. The best scenario for China is a diplomatically acceptable status quo that enables China to pursue its interests in Europe as well as in Russia, while preserving the Russian state as a great power. In Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba’s May 17, 2023, meeting with Li Hui, PRC special envoy to Ukraine, the Ukrainian government clearly rejected any “freezing” of the conflict or any loss of territory to Russia.[71] Ukrainian officials further told Li Hui that Ukraine’s own peace proposal should be the basis of any negotiated settlement,[72] demonstrating that Xi’s plan remains a non-starter in Kyiv. While some in the international community bank on China reining in Russian aggression, how much influence China actually has over Russia—even in its economically weakened and internationally restricted position remains to be seen, as well as the results of Ukraine’s spring counteroffensive. About the Contributor Elizabeth Wishnick is Senior Research Scientist in CNA’s China and Indo-Pacific Security Affairs Division, on leave from her position as Professor of Political Science at Montclair State University. She is also Senior Research Scholar at the Weatherhead East Asian Institute of Columbia University. The views expressed here are strictly her own. For more on her work, see and She would like to thank Samuel Robertson for his research and editing assistance.


[1] Transcript of Ambassador Fu Cong’s Exclusive Interview with the Financial Times,” [2] Petr Nikolaev, “Посол Китая в России Чжан Посоветовал Западу Прекратить Давать Указания По Ситуации На Украине,” [Posol Kitaya v Rossii Zhang posovetoval zapadu prekratit' davat' ukazaniya po situatsii na Ukraine] Газета.Ru [Gazeta.Ru], April 7, 2023, [3] 邢晓婧范安琪, “中国驻俄罗斯大使张汉晖:世界越是动荡不安,中俄关系越应稳步向前,” 环球时报网, March 17, 2023, [4] President of Russia, “Joint Statement of the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China on the International Relations Entering a New Era and the Global Sustainable Development,” February 4, 2022, [5] On debates on the PRC’s Russia policy, see Xin Zhang, “‘Endogenous Drives’ with ‘No Limits’: Contrasting Chinese Policy Narratives on Sino-Russian Relations since 2014,” Russian Analytical Digest, no. 265 (March 19, 2021), 7, DOI:10.3929/ethz-b-000476768. [6] “Президент России и Председатель КНР сделали заявления для прессы” [The President of Russia and the President of China Make Press Statements], March 21, 2023, [7] China Central Government, “中国和乌克兰关于进一步深化战略伙伴关系的联合声明,” December 5, 2013, [8]Elizabeth Wishnick, “Ukraine: China’s Burning Bridge to Europe?” The Diplomat, February 2, 2022, [9] Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, “President Xi Jinping Speaks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on the Phone,” April 26, 2023, [10] Elizabeth Wishnick, “What China’s Ukraine Position Paper Tells Us,” InDepth, March 17, 2023, [11] “Transcript: World Press Freedom Day,” The Washington Post, May 3, 2023, [12]“Interview with Lu Shaye on TV France 1,” TFIInfo, April 21, 2023, [13] Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, “Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Mao Ning’s Regular Press Conference on April 24, 2023,” [14] Xiao Bin, a PRC researcher on Russia, sees two slight changes in the PRC’s Ukraine policy since February 2022. Xi now emphasizes that China’s positions will be decided on the merits of the issues and that Beijing will seek to play a role in any peace process. 肖斌, “中国会以自己的方式在俄乌战争中扮演和平角色," China-US Focus, December 24, 2022, [15] This was UN Resolution on Cooperation between the United Nations and the Council of Europe A/RES/77/284, April 26, 2023, . One Russian news outlet calls the news “unpleasant”: Mikhail Shchipanov, “Почему Китай и Индия проголосовали за ‘Россию-агрессора’?” [Why Did China and India Vote for ‘Russia as the Aggressor’?], News.RU, May 2, 2023,, while a more right-wing site downplays any evidence of “betrayal” by Russian allies: Evgeniya Kondakova, “Почему союзников России обвинили в предательстве из-за голосования в ООН” [Why Were Russia’s Allies Accused of Betrayal because of their Votes in the UN], May 2, 2023, [16] Jack Lau, “China Says Its Stand on Ukraine War ‘Has Not Changed’ After UN Vote," South China Morning Post, May 4, 2023,[17] Hu Wei, “Possible Outcomes of the Russo-Ukrainian War and China’s Choice,” U.S.-China Perception Monitor, March 12, 2022, For a similar view, see Retired PLA Senior Colonel Zhou Bo, “周波谈北约与欧洲安全形势,” China-US Focus, December 15, 2022, [18] Hu Wei, “Reflections on the First Year of the Russo-Ukrainian War,” U.S.-China Perception Monitor, February 24, 2023, [19]For example, 冯玉军, “俄国历史文化与当代发展(上),” January 17, 2023, Feng Yujun, a leading expert on Russia, is professor and vice-dean at Fudan University. The article by former PRC Ambassador to Ukraine, Gao Yusheng, was originally published in and archived from the Google cache at Also see David Cowhig’s Translation Blog, May 10, 2022, at; Jun Mai, “Russia ‘Obsessed with Owning Land’: Chinese Scholar Calls out Flawed War Logic,” South China Morning Post, May 21, 2022, [20] 邢广程, "俄罗斯站在乌克兰危机的重大历史关口,", December 27, 2022,; “冯玉军俄乌冲突下的俄罗斯外交与中俄关系,"_爱思想, January 25, 2023, Also see Thomas Eder, "Will China Save Russia’s Military in 2023? – Chinese Expert Debates on China-Russia Relations and the Long War in Ukraine," CHOICE, February 23, 2023,[21]See the following article by the American Studies Research Group at the China Institute for Contemporary International Relations, a leading think tank under the PRC Ministry of Public Security (CICIR), 中国现代国际关系研究院美国所课题组; Feng Shaolei, a prominent Russia expert at East China Normal University, makes a similar point. 冯绍雷, "俄乌冲突的前景和新问题的应对,” March 21, 2023,[22] Tsukasa Hadano, “Behind Ukraine Peace Proposal, China Foresees End to War in Summer,” Nikkei Asia, March 9, 2023, [23] Elizabeth Wishnick and Josiah Case, “China’s Aid to Russia: Lip Service?” CEPA, March 21, 2022, [24] Oliver Slow, “China Refuses to Condemn Russia's Ukraine Invasion During G20 Deadlock,” BBC News, February 25, 2023, [25]Daniil Belovodyev, Andrei Soshnikov, and Reid Standish, “Exclusive: Leaked Files Show China and Russia Sharing Tactics on Internet Control, Censorship,” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, April 5, 2023, [26] Samuel Bendett and Elsa Kania, “A New Sino-Russian High-Tech Partnership,” Australia Strategic Policy Institute, October 29, 2019, [27] Nivedita Kapoor, “Tech-Tonic Shift in Sino-Russian Cooperation,” Observer Research Foundation, May 12, 2021, [28] Christopher Weidacher Hsiung, “China’s Technology Cooperation with Russia: Geopolitics, Economics, and Regime Security,” The Chinese Journal of International Politics 14, no. 3 (September 1, 2021): 447–79,[29] “中俄新一轮联手, 北斗帮俄罗斯大忙迎新机遇, 卫星实现军,” March 25, 2023, Tencent March 26. [30] Roscosmos, “Russia, China Sign Deal on Mutual Deployment of Glonass, Beidou Satellite Navigation Systems in Their Territories,” September 27, 2022, [31] Elizabeth Wishnick, “Sino-Russian Consolidation at a Time of Geopolitical Rivalry,” China Leadership Monitor, March 1, 2020, [32] Lauren Dudley, “Part Two: Huawei Enlists Russian Talent and Technology to Ensure Future Innovation,” Council on Foreign Relations, October 28, 2020, [33]Ivan Chernousov, “Китайское предубеждение: Huawei может окончательно покинуть Россию” [Chinese Prejudice: Huawei May Finally Leave Russia], October 31, 2022,; “Huawei не ушел из России, а изменил механизм поставок, заявил эксперт” [Huawei Did Not Leave Russia, But It Changed the Supply Mechanism, Expert], October 31, 2022,; Ivan Kuznetsov, “Почему Huawei осталась в России, но всем говорит, что ушла” [Why Huawei Stayed in Russia, But Tells Everyone That It Left], June 15, 2022, [34] Gavin Wilde and Justin Sherman, “Putin’s Internet Plan: Dependency with a Veneer of Sovereignty,” Brookings Tech Stream, May 11, 2022, [35] Alberto Nardelli, “Russian Memo Said War Leaves Moscow Too Reliant on Chinese Tech,” BNN Bloomberg, April 18, 2023, [36] For example, “Россия обеспокоилась чрезмерной зависимостью от китайских технологий” [Russia Worried about Over-reliance on Chinese Technology], Lenta.RU, April 19, 2023, [37]Adam Segal, “Peering Into the Future of Sino-Russian Cyber Security Cooperation,” War on the Rocks, August 10, 2020, [38]Alexander Gabuev and Leonid Kovachic, “Comrades in Tweets? Contours and Limits of China-Russia Cooperation on Digital Propaganda,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, June 3, 2021,; Nivedita Kapoor, “Tech-Tonic Shift in Sino-Russian Cooperation,” Observer Research Foundation, May 12, 2021, [39] Karen DeYoung and Missy Ryan, “Russia Says China Agreed to Secretly Provide Weapons, Leaked Documents Show,” The Washington Post, April 13, 2023, [40] Mehul Srivastava, Max Seddon, and Felicia Schwartz, “China Snubbed Wagner Arms Request, Says US Intelligence Leak,” Financial Times, April 20, 2023, [41] Xinhua, “China Denounces Sending Military Aid to Russia as ‘Pure Fabrication,’" March 24, 2023, [42]Editorial, “Some Western Media Are Very Unprofessional as Chinese Defense Minister Visits Russia,” Global Times, April 17, 2023, [43]Andrew Jones, “US Sanctions Satellite Firm for Allegedly Supplying SAR Imagery to Russia’s Wagner Group,” SpaceNews, January 27, 2023,; Naomi Garcia, Trade Secrets: Exposing China-Russia Defense Trade in Global Supply Chains, C4ADS, July 15, 2022,; Ian Talley and Anthony DeBarros, “China Aids Russia’s War in Ukraine, Trade Data Show,” The Wall Street Journal, February 4, 2023,; Mathias Williams and John O’Donnell, “Ukraine Says It Is Finding More Chinese Components in Russian Weapons,” Reuters, April 16, 2023, [44]Trevor Hunnicutt and Michael Martina, “US Seeks Allies Backing for Possible China Sanctions over Ukraine War,” Reuters, March 1, 2023, [45] Markus Garlauskas, Joe Webster, and Emma C. Verges, “China’s Support May Not Be Lethal Aid but It’s Vital to Russia’s Aggression in Ukraine,” Atlantic Council, May 8, 2023, [46] “中俄军事合作迎来新的突破,俄方想要的,都在中国防长的话里了,” April 19, 2023, [47]“Владимир Путин провел переговоры с министром обороны КНР Ли Шанфу” [Vladimir Putin Holds Talks with Chinese Defense Minister Li Shangfu], April 17, 2023, [48]Alexander Gabuev, “China’s New Vassal: How the War in Ukraine Turned Moscow Into Beijing’s Junior Partner,” Foreign Affairs, August 9, 2022, [49] Alexandra Prokopenko, “Russia’s Journey Toward Economic Dependence on China,” The Bell, March 17, 2023,; Shin Watanabe, “North Korean Trade with China Continues to Shrink, Dropping 84%,” Nikkei Asia, July 18, 2021, [50] Erica Downs and Tatiana Mitrova, “Q&A | China-Russia Energy Relations One Year After the Invasion of Ukraine," Center on Global Energy Policy, Columbia University, February 23, 2023, [51] Cited in Ivan Tkachyov, “Западные эксперты оценили зависимость экономики России от Китая” [Western Experts Assess the Dependence of the Russian Economy on China], November 15, 2022, [52] Erica Downs, “A Friend in Need Is a Friend Indeed? China-Russia Energy Relations in the Wake of the War in Ukraine,” Journal of International Affairs, September 15, 2022, [53] Sergey Vakulenko, “What Russia’s First Gas Pipeline to China Reveals About a Planned Second One,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, April 18, 2023,[54] David Fishman, “How Nuclear Power Can Rebalance China’s Energy Mix,” Sixth Tone, December 27, 2022, [55] Ke Dawei, “China, Russia Fuse Massive Nuclear Deal,” Caixin Global, June 11, 2018,; Rosatom, “Russia, China Sign Several Major Nuclear Contracts in the Nuclear Sphere," June 8, 2018, [56] “China and Russia Sign Fast-Neutron Reactors Cooperation Agreement: Nuclear Policies," World Nuclear News, March 22, 2023,[57]Echo Xie, “Russia Confirms Enriched Uranium Supplies to China," South China Morning Post, May 5, 2023,[58] “China’s Nuclear Fuel Cycle," World Nuclear Association, updated August 2021, [59] Daniel Shats and Peter W. Singer, “The Balance of Power Is Shifting Among Nuclear-Energy Titans,” Defense One, October 5, 2022,[60]Agroexport, “China Becomes Leading Market for Russian Food, Agricultural Exports in 2022," Interfax, February 9, 2023,[61] Global Times, “China, Russia Seek to Boost Agricultural Cooperation at Online Meeting," - September 1, 2022,; Jiayi Zhou, "Prospects for Agri-Food Trade between Russia and China," in Stephen K. Wegren and Frode Nilssen, eds., Russia's Role in the Contemporary International Agri-Food Trade System (Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan, 2021), 209. [62]Orange Wang, “Russia Pushing More Farm Exports to China as Western Sanctions Bite, Says Diplomatic Source,” South China Morning Post, August 26, 2022,[63] “Усе на Схід: як Китай підкорив собі ‘зерновий коридор’" [All to the East: How China Conquered the "Grain Corridor”], Ekonomychna Pravda (Ukraine), April 4, 2023, Thanks to Jakub Jakubówski (@J_Jakubowski) for posting this article. [64]Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China, “Wang Yi Puts Forward China’s Cooperation Initiative on Global Food Security,” July 8, 2022, [65] Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China, “China’s Position on the Political Settlement of the Ukraine Crisis,” February 24, 2023,[66] Asim Anand, “What’s Keeping Russia-Ukraine Grain Deal Afloat Despite Putin’s Quibbles?” S&P Global Commodity Insights, March 29, 2023, [67]The comment resonates in Chinese society where Russia’s eclipse is viewed as confirmation of China’s rise. See Katsuji Nakazawa, “Analysis: Macron’s Labeling of Russia as Vassal State Goes Viral in China,” Nikkei Asia, May 18, 2023, [68] “Russia’s Reliance on China Will Outlast Vladimir Putin, Says Alexander Gabuev,” The Economist, March 18, 2023, [69] Elizabeth Buchanan, “The Ukraine War and the Future of the Arctic,” Rusi, March 18, 2022, [70] “Китаист Иван Зуенко: ‘Пекину Россия Не Нужна Как Слабое, Нестабильное Государство’” [Sinologist Ivan Zuenko: "Beijing Does Not Need Russia as a Weak, Unstable State"], September 14, 2022, [71] Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, “Візит до України спеціального представника уряду Китайської Народної Республіки Лі Хуея” [Visit to Ukraine by the Special Representative of the Government of the People's Republic of China Li Hui], May 17, 2023, [72] President of Ukraine, “The Office of The President Held a Briefing on the Current Security Situation in Ukraine for The Chinese Delegation Headed by the Special Representative of the Chinese Government,” May 18, 2023,

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