US smears China-Russia trade to shift blame for failed Western sanctions
Published: Apr 15, 2024 09:42 PM Updated: Apr 15, 2024 11:58 PM
Illustration: Chen Xia/GT

Illustration: Chen Xia/GT

The US' farfetched accusations of "Chinese firms supplying Russia with drone, missile components" are just another attempt to smear normal China-Russia trade and fabricate a vicious China-Russia alliance to account for Russian resilience to Western sanctions, analysts said on Monday. 

The comments came after a Bloomberg report, citing senior US officials, claimed "China is providing Russia with significant quantities of components to build cruise missiles and drones, as well as optical parts for tanks and armored vehicles, allowing Moscow to ramp up defense production in its war against Ukraine."    

The Bloomberg report acknowledged there is no evidence that China is providing lethal assistance, but said people familiar with the US intelligence assessment characterized the aid as just as significant, saying that "without the imports, Russia's military industrial base would struggle."

The report named multiple Chinese firms, including Hikvision, which was already on the US sanction list. It also claimed Chinese firms are selling nitrocellulose, which Russia uses to make propellants for weapons. 

Lü Xiang, a research fellow of US studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Monday that such unwarranted accusations are targeted at normal China-Russia trade, which is developing at a fast pace and stood at $240 billion in 2023. 

As Russia is rich in energy while China is a manufacturing giant, these products in bilateral trade are very reasonable, Lü said, adding that the US' tactic is to amplify the argument that products China sold for civilian use can be used for military purposes. 

But "can be used" does not equal "are being used"; common industrial components can be used for military systems just as food for civilians can also feed soldiers, Lü said, "The US can always fabricate so-called proof for its preset charges against China."

China does not take sides in the conflict and we mean it, analysts said, adding that it is the US that keeps sending weapons to the battlefield and fueling the war. 

The US has heightened its attacks on China-Russia ties against the backdrop of Russia ramping up production of military equipment and Western aid to Kiev dwindling, while further US assistance is tied up in Congress.

Shen Yi, a professor at Fudan University in Shanghai, told the Global Times on Monday that the US' accusations were "pure slander" to divert pressure away from its inability to defeat Russia on the battlefield. 

With Europe paying a heavy price for the prolonged conflict and rounds of sanctions, the incumbent US administration has to find someone to blame for Russia's resilience in front of Americans and their European allies. Whenever the US is in any kind of trouble, China is a convenient scapegoat, Lü said. 

Analysts warned that the US may also use the smear campaign to manipulate public opinion and justify further sanctions on Chinese firms. 

According to Bloomberg, the US sanctions office is investigating several companies involved in shipments of chips that ultimately end up in Russia.