No evidence China is easing Russia’s Ukraine sanctions sting: Yellen

  • US Treasury chief says Beijing seems cautious about its willingness to do business with Moscow, despite their deepening ties
  • Washington has vowed to vigorously enforce export controls on Russia and guard against Chinese companies that try to get around the sanctions

There have been no signs China is helping Russia skirt sanctions over its war in Ukraine, according to US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.

“I’ve not seen evidence that China is providing Russia with any significant workaround for our sanctions,” she told CNBC on Thursday.

“Chinese banks do a lot of business with the West. They care very deeply about their relationship with the US and European financial systems, and they seem to be very cautious in their willingness to do business with Russia.”

The Treasury chief declined to comment on what the Joe Biden administration might do if it did see signs of Beijing helping Moscow to get around the welter of sanctions put in place by the US and its allies.

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo earlier this week vowed to vigorously enforce export controls on Russia and said the US would be on guard against Chinese semiconductor companies that might try to get around the sanctions.

China has not joined in sanctioning Russia’s economy over its invasion of Ukraine, and has instead examined tightening its economic ties. Earlier this week, sources said Beijing was considering buying or increasing stakes in Russian energy and commodities companies, such as gas giant Gazprom and aluminium producer United Co. Rusal International.

Earlier on Thursday, in a Washington Post live webcast, Yellen said: “China does buy Russian oil, but I think that our sanctions are limiting Russia’s ability to sell to China and other countries.”

Yellen told CNBC that “conceivably there could be some partial relief for Russia through that channel, but I don’t think anything will happen through China – or at least, I am not seeing any evidence of it – that would significantly mitigate the crushing burden of what we’ve done.”

The US was not expecting European countries to follow it in banning imports of Russian fuels, because of the region’s dependence fossil fuels from Russia, Yellen said during the webcast.

“We recognise that not all countries are in the same position in terms of their ability to cut off shipments of oil and gas from Russia.”

Yellen also reiterated that the Biden administration was prepared for further steps against Russia amid the continuing invasion.

Author: Bloomberg, SCMP

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