Russia’s energy is a dangerous opportunity for China during the Ukrainian War: Experts

Chinese Communist Party leaders are seeking opportunities to increase Russia’s coal, oil and gas imports during the ongoing war in Ukraine. Experts say the move could help stabilize China’s ongoing energy problems, but it could also backfire by imposing international sanctions on its own.

The question of how Beijing will react to international anger at Russia remains in many minds as Western countries impose stricter sanctions on Russia’s energy exports in the coming months.It was a topic Discussion July 8th, a roundtable meeting of foreign policy experts at an event hosted by the Atlantic Council, a foreign policy-oriented think tank.

The energy relationship between the two countries remains complicated as Russia has become China’s top crude oil provider and Beijing’s state energy company has also suspended several energy projects in Russia. Still, given the apparent trade benefits of Russia’s continued isolation on the world stage, some wonder if the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) wants to prolong the situation.

Dangers and opportunities await China in Russia

Among the speakers at the Atlantic Council event was Erica Downs, a senior researcher at Columbia University’s Center for Global Energy Policy.

“Russia is one of China’s most important energy partners,” Downs said.

She explained that China is Russia’s largest importer of coal, natural gas and oil, and despite Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it has increased its intake compared to last year.

Indeed, the communist government Double Liquefied natural gas was imported from Russia more than a year ago in February, and Russia’s oil imports increased even as demand declined. As early as November 2021, China accounted for almost half of the world’s crude oil imports from Russia, a trend showing no signs of a slowdown.

Mr Downs said China’s motives are multifaceted. She said the administration was desperately trying to improve energy security following last year’s historic rolling blackouts, while the CCP was taking advantage of low prices due to lack of markets elsewhere in the world. Stated. A system to close the factory due to lack of electricity.

In particular, Mr Downs also said that the onshore pipelines flowing from Russia to China avoided maritime chokepoints that could be targeted if China were approved by the international community.

The war in Ukraine “certainly not only provides an opportunity for China, but also poses a bit of danger,” Downs said.

“China was able to buy a lot of Russian fossil fuels at a low price.”

Downs said the war also gave the CCP the advantage of being able to negotiate relations with Russia from a strong standpoint, given Russia’s inability to engage in markets elsewhere. Still, she said, Chinese companies are clever about violating international sanctions, even though the CCP rhetoric has questioned the legitimacy of sanctions.

Impact of earthquakes on global energy markets

China’s communist rule seemed ready to avoid the difficulties of last year’s energy shortage, but some believed that the worst for world society had not yet come.

“Russia’s massive attack on Ukraine is clearly a major geopolitical event, but it will have an impact on the world’s oil and gas economy,” said the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Energy Security. Edward Chow, Senior Associate of the Security and Climate Change Program, said. International Studies, a security-focused think tank.

“It’s a bit early to be completely convinced of what the long-term implications will be. I feel this may be greater than the two price shocks of the 1970s.”

Chow’s remarks refer to a five-month oil embargo in the West, led by Saudi Arabia, which began in 1973. The embargo, albeit short, had devastating consequences for US oil supplies, quadrupled US gas prices and caused shortages across the country. The problems initiated by the crisis led to the 1979 oil crisis, where markets overreacted to the loss of oil production from Iran, causing price increases and shortfalls, and ultimately a long-term global recession. Caused.

“This will be done over a long period of time,” he said.

Given that long time frame, the complexity of China-Russia relations could have the opportunity to evolve or collapse in interesting ways, especially given that China had previously had close ties with Ukraine. Chow said.

Before Russia invaded its neighbors, China had signed a treaty pledged to protect Ukraine from invasion by nuclear powers. The administration purchased the first aircraft carrier from Ukraine in 1998.

“China was Ukraine’s largest trading partner,” Chow said. “China’s trade with Ukraine was greater than Germany’s trade with Ukraine and greater than Poland’s trade with Ukraine.”

“War will only get more complicated in the future.”

The growing shadow of Chinese-Russian authoritarianism

US intelligence leaders have repeatedly stated that the CCP-Kremlin partnership will continue to grow over the next decade. There may have been some doubts after the announcement of an “unrestricted” partnership between the two governments at the Xi-Putin face-to-face meeting in February, but so far, one party to the other. Commitment has proven to be unwavering. Indeed, the statement and the unlimited nature of the partnership were reaffirmed in April.

Beyond that, the CCP was allegedly informed in advance of Putin’s invasion plan and requested that the war in Ukraine be postponed until the end of the 2022 Beijing Olympics. The Biden administration has even reached the point of hours of consultation with CCP officials on the latter consideration of providing military support for Russia’s war effort. In addition, a report from Ukraine, probably edited by friendly Western nations, shows that China-based hackers have attacked nuclear assets the day before Russia’s invasion, including important Ukrainian civilian and military infrastructure. Claimed to have carried out a large-scale cyber campaign against.

NATO members urged China to reject Russia and refrain from supporting its war effort, but how much pressure the West has put on Beijing over its economic ties with Moscow amid heightened global tensions. It is unknown whether to call.

Andrew Thornbrook


Andrew Thornebrooke is a reporter for The Epoch Times, which deals with China-related issues with a focus on defense, military and national security. He holds a master’s degree in military history from Norwich University.