China opposes ‘illegal’ sanctions against Russia by United States and its allies

  • Top banking regulator downplays possible economic impacts on ‘sound and resilient’ Chinese economy, while striving for ‘normal’ trade and financial ties with both Moscow and Kyiv
  • Foreign ministry spokesman also decries the effectiveness of sanctions, warning of the impact on people’s livelihoods

Beijing neither supports, nor will be taking part in the imposition of, financial sanctions imposed by the West and its allies against Russia, according to China’s top banking regulator.

Instead, it will strive to maintain “normal” trade and financial ties with both Moscow and Kyiv, said Guo Shuqing, chairman of the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission.

His comments at a press conference on Wednesday supported those made a day earlier by Commerce Minister Wang Wentao, who also expressed China’s “hope to promote our normal trade” with the warring states after Russia invaded Ukraine.

Guo added that the impact those sanctions will have on the Chinese economy, and its financial sector, were not entirely clear.

“But on the whole, we don’t think it will have much of an impact in the future, since our economy and finances are very sound and resilient,” he said.

The United States and its allies have doubled down on a sweeping array of economic and financial sanctions on Russia in the wake of its invasion ordered by President Vladimir Putin.

Beijing has responded by attempting to walk a diplomatic tightrope between Moscow and Kyiv – neither endorsing nor condemning Russia’s actions.

In his first State of the Union address on Tuesday, US President Joe Biden said his administration was enforcing “powerful” economic sanctions and taking robust action to make sure the pain is targeted at Russia’s economy.

“We are joining with our European allies to find and seize their yachts, their luxury apartments and their private jets. We are coming for your ill-begotten gains,” he said.

Washington on Monday escalated its sanctions by freezing assets of Russia’s central bank and blocking a Russian sovereign investment fund, after the United States, Britain, European Union allies and Canada agreed to cut off Russia’s largest banks from the global interbank messaging system Swift.

The US, EU, Britain and Japan have also imposed hi-tech export restrictions, banned major Russian banks and state-owned enterprises such as Gazprom from raising funds in their markets.

“Speaking of financial sanctions, we do not approve of them, especially the unilateral ones, since their effects are not good and do not have much legal basis,” Guo said. “We will not participate in such sanctions, and we will continue to maintain normal economic, trade and financial exchanges with relevant parties.”

Wang Wenbin, spokesman for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, also reaffirmed on Wednesday that the country “firmly opposes any illegal unilateral sanctions”.

“Sanctions have never been a fundamental and effective way to solve the problem. They will only bring serious difficulties to the economy and the livelihoods of people in the relevant countries, further intensifying division and confrontation,” Wang Wenbin said at a press conference, according to the state broadcaster CCTV.

“China and Russia will continue to carry out normal trade cooperation in the spirit of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit.”

Furthermore, he said: “We demand that relevant parties, in handling the Ukraine issue and relations with Russia, not harm the legitimate rights and interests of China and other sides concerned.”

Author: Orange Wang, SCMP

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