Chinese leader Xi Jinping is keeping the West guessing about whether Beijing will cooperate with tougher sanctions on Russia as he meets President Vladimir Putin a year after declaring they had a “no limits” friendship ahead of the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine.
China has avoided violating sanctions but its purchases of Russian oil and gas rose almost 60% in August over a year ago to $11.2 billion. That helps to top up Moscow’s cash flow after the United States, Europe and Japan cut purchases and expelled Russia from the global banking system.
Xi and Putin are due to meet this week in Uzbekistan at a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, an eight-nation Central Asian security group.
Washington and allies in the Group of Seven major economies want to squeeze Moscow by enforcing an upper limit on how much buyers are allowed to pay for its oil. That would require cooperation from China, India and other energy-hungry Asian economies that have avoided taking sides and still buy from Russia.
“India and China may decide to stay out of the fray and sign separate agreements with Russia,” wrote Sergey Vakulenko, a former strategy director for Russian gas giant Gazprom, in a report for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.