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China’s trade with Russia isn’t enough to offset the impact of U.S. and European sanctions on Moscow, according to the White House.

In the hours after Russia invaded Ukraine on Thursday, the U.S., U.K. and European Union announced new sanctions aimed at isolating Moscow from the global economy. The sweeping measures did not include restrictions on purchases of Russian oil and gas — a significant driver of the local economy.

In Beijing, China’s foreign ministry said Thursday the country’s trade with Russia and Ukraine would remain “normal” and refused to call the attack an “invasion.” Meanwhile, the customs agency approved wheat imports from Russia.

China and Russia’s share of the global economy is far less than that of the Group of Seven countries — which includes the U.S. and Germany. That means China “cannot cover” the impact of the sanctions, U.S. press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters late Thursday in Washington.

China accounted for 17.3% of global GDP in 2020, versus Russia’s 1.7% and the G-7′s 45.8%, according to World Bank data.

China is the largest trade partner for Russia and Ukraine. Both countries are part of the Belt and Road Initiative — a regional infrastructure development plan widely seen as Beijing’s effort to increase global influence.

Trade between China and Russia reached a record high of $146.9 billion in 2021, up 35.8% year-on-year, according to China’s customs agency. China’s imports from Russia exceeded exports by more than $10 billion.

From current levels of imports and exports, trade would need to grow by an additional 37% to reach Moscow and Beijing’s goal of $200 billion by 2024.

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China’s trade with Ukraine rose by 29.7% last year to $19.31 billion, also a record high, and split fairly evenly between imports and exports, according to customs data.

“China and Russia are comprehensive strategic partners. China and Ukraine are friendly partners,” Assistant Foreign Minister Hua Chunying said Thursday in Mandarin, according to a CNBC translation.

“Thus China will conduct normal trade cooperation, on the basis of [China’s] Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence [for international relations] and the basis of friendly relationship with both countries,” she said. “This of course includes cooperation on energy.”

Source: cnbc.com, Photo: Dmitry Astakhov | Tass | Getty Images

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