According to official Chinese customs figures released Tuesday, China’s imports of Russian oil reached a record level in May since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. In that month, China bought approximately 9.71 million tons of Russian oil, nearly double the 5.4 million tons it imported in February 2022.
As Western countries imposed unprecedented sanctions against Russia, China imported 6.3 million tons of Russian oil in the following month. These data highlight the economic rapprochement between China and Russia in recent months.
Western powers have warned China against any support for Russian President Vladimir Putin that could help Russia mitigate the impact of sanctions. However, Russia is seeking new markets for its products due to the sanctions, and both China and India have increased their imports of Russian oil.
Although China consumed fewer raw materials last year due to confinements and factory closures related to the COVID-19 pandemic, in 2022 it became Russia’s largest customer in the energy sector. This allowed Moscow to maintain its gas exports despite Western sanctions related to the war in Ukraine.
In addition, the volume of trade between China and Russia in May reached an unprecedented level since the start of the war in Ukraine, reaching $20.5 billion (€19.2 billion). In recent years, China and Russia have also strengthened their diplomatic relations.