China’s export of advanced machine tools to Russia has grown since the war started

Since the invasion of Ukraine, China has increased its exports of modern machine tools to Russia, used in the military industry.

Chinese vendors now account for most shipments of ‘computer numerical control’ gadgets used by Moscow’s defense industry.

The Financial Times wrote that Chinese sales of a crucial category of modern equipment to Russia have grown since the full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

These machine tools are crucial to the military industry in Moscow. They enable the quick manufacturing of complicated metal and other hard material components, making them important for defense production.

Russian defense firms like Aeroscan import Chinese-made products, including the Lancet kamikaze drones, which have inflicted significant casualties on Ukrainian forces.

Russian Customs reports that Chinese manufacturers provided $68 million in CNC equipment in July—the most current number verified—up from $6.5 million in February 2022.

The scale of advanced tools received by Russia from Hina

Chinese-made CNC devices contributed to 57% of Russian imports by value in July, up from 12% in the months preceding the war. They also suggest that Moscow has carried on to purchase substantial numbers of CNC tools manufactured in South Korea and Taiwan.

Beijing claims that it does not provide lethal weapons to Moscow, yet it opposes sanctions. China also provides consumer products, autos, machinery, electricity, and other items to sanctioned Russia. In October, China’s President Xi Jinping reminded Vladimir Putin that the two countries’ annual trade had hit a “historic high” of over $200 billion.

A Financial Times analysis of export statistics showed that several big benefactors of the Russian rise have close links to China’s People’s Liberation Army. Wuhan Huazhong Numerical Control, for example, has increased its exports to Russia. Between 2008 and 2010, Huazhong CNC faced US sanctions issued under a law that restricted the export of military technology or equipment to North Korea, Syria, or Iran.

According to the Bank of Finland Institute for Emerging Economies, the median price of a Chinese commodities basket that Russia might utilize to aid its war effort grew by 78% between 2021 and 2023. Foreign countries were charged just an additional 12% when China sold them identical products.

Western attempts to impact Russia’s sanctions circumvention

In November, the United States set severe penalties on all large Russian importers of CNC tools, even those that had transferred less than $200,000 in machinery since the February invasion. Chinese firms that carry on to engage with Russian importers now face US measures that might jeopardize their ability to trade in other countries.

A former deputy assistant US trade representative, Emily Kilcrease, claims that Washington was hesitant to employ sanctions to target Chinese companies supplying Russia because it was concerned that acting so would reduce the effectiveness of such sanctions in the case of a crisis with Beijing.

The surge in China’s advanced machine tool exports to Russia casts a long shadow beyond mere trade figures. It paints a stark picture of deepening China-Russia ties, forged in the fires of war, with potentially dangerous consequences for global security. These sophisticated tools, vital to Moscow’s military production, are not simply commercial transactions; they are a worrying form of indirect war assistance.

China’s economic and military might, along with its growing disrespect for international standards, offers a distinct and grave challenge. It necessitates a sophisticated and regulated reaction. The West cannot afford to completely alienate China, driving it even closer to Russia.

It will be hard to stop Russia’s war in Ukraine and halt Russia’s weaponry production without preventing China from providing advanced machine tools to Moscow.

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