A conversation between Bonnie Glaser and Yanmei Xie discussing the economic integration between China and Russia following the February 2022 invasion of Ukraine.


On May 17, Russian President Vladimir Putin concluded a two-day visit to China for his 43rd meeting with Xi Jinping. Based on public readouts, Putin emphasized the economic benefits that the Sino-Russian partnership could bring to both countries. Economic integration between Russia and China has accelerated dramatically, with total trade between them reaching $240 billion US dollars in 2023. Beijing’s decision to increase trade with Moscow after the February 2022 invasion of Ukraine has kept the Russian economy afloat.

Western sanctions have failed to cripple Russia’s economy or its war effort. After the European Union halted the import of Russian oil, China stepped in and has since become Russia’s top energy buyer. Moreover, China has become Russia’s top goods supplier, having surged its sales of machine tools, microelectronics, and other technology that Moscow uses to produce weaponry in its ongoing war with Ukraine.

To discuss China’s trade with Russia, host Bonnie Glaser is joined by Yanmei Xie. Yanmei is a Geopolitics Analyst at Gavekal Research, where she analyzes the implications of rising geopolitical and geoeconomic risks on trade, investments, and supply chains. Yanmei recently published a report on China’s economic support for Russia, which was titled “How China Keeps Russia in Business.”


Episode Highlights:

[02:00] China’s Economic Support of Russia

[05:29] Areas of Success for Western Sanctions

[07:11] A Surge in Chinese Exports After the Invasion of Ukraine

[09:54] Chinese Playbook for Circumventing Sanctions

[13:36] Chinese Provision of Crucial Materials

[15:17] Incentive to Capture the Russian Energy Market

[19:17] Impact of Western Industrial Policies on Sino-Russian Trade

[20:20] Possibility of Increased Sanctions to Deter China

[23:24] China’s Toolbox of Retaliatory Measures

[26:48] Plateauing Economic Support for Russia