02/25/2022, 15.00
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Ukraine invasion: Beijing helping Moscow in first anti-sanctions move

China is ready to buy Russian wheat without phytosanitary restrictions. However, it will take much more to mitigate the impact of punitive Western financial restrictions. Meanwhile, China continues to avoid describing Russian aggression as an "invasion". For Australia, China’s position is “unacceptable”.

Beijing (AsiaNews) – China is coming to Vladimir Putin's rescue with a first move to mitigate the impact of Western sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

In a statement released yesterday after the start of Russia’s military attack, China’s General Administration of Customs announced the opening of its domestic market to the unrestricted Russian wheat sales.

Due to phytosanitary concerns, Beijing had limited Russian grain imports hitherto. Lifting restrictions was already included in the package of agreements signed during Putin's recent visit to Beijing for the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics.

Such deals reflect the strengthening of the “strategic partnership” between China and Russia in response to the geopolitical pressures of the United States and its allies.

By granting full access to Russian wheat, the Chinese aim at enhancing their food security, whilst, for Russians, greater food exports are one way to diversify their trade with China, currently dominated by the export of raw materials.

According to various observers, however, it will take much more to help the Kremlin against Western financial sanctions, which include blocking Russia’s access to European and US capital markets, and preventing the use of the dollar, the euro and the yen.

On the eve of Russia’s aggression on Ukraine, the Chinese ambassador to Russia, Zhang Hanhui, had called for the two countries to make greater use of each other’s currencies in trade, especially energy, hitherto largely denominated in dollars and euros.

Meanwhile, as Russian tanks reached the outskirts of Kyiv, China continues to express it opposition to “unilateral” sanctions, urging “dialogue” and “moderation” to resolve the crisis.

Once again, at today's press conference, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman refused to use the word “invasion” to describe Russian military operations in Ukraine.

For his part, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison slammed China’s decision to ease the impact of punitive measures on Russia.

Regarding the Russian wheat agreement, Morrison called it an "unacceptable" move by the Chinese.

Canberra also announced new sanctions against Russia in coordination with the United States and European countries.

Likewise, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said that Japan would block the export of semiconductors (microchips) to the Russian aggressor. Taiwan is considering stopping the sale of chips to Russia.

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