Putin highlights EU’s growing dependence on China
Russian President Vladimir Putin has dismissed claims of Russia’s growing economic dependence on China, saying in an interview with Russia 24 TV on Saturday that Brussels has much more to worry about in this regard than Moscow.
When asked by interviewer Pavel Zarubin about Moscow’s alleged overreliance on trade with Beijing, Putin replied by saying that those are the “words not of skeptics but of enviers.” According to the president, there have always been forces seeking to drive a wedge first between China and the USSR and later between China and Russia.
The Russian leader also warned that the EU should be worried not about Russia’s trade policies but about its own relations with Beijing. “Dependence of the European economy on China … is growing much faster than that of Russia,” he said, adding that “trade volume between China and the ‘united Europe’ is increasing at a very high rate.” “They [the EU] should rather look after themselves,” the president added.
According to the EU statistics agency, Eurostat, trade volumes between the bloc and China have been steadily growing since at least 2015, with a particularly high growth rate over the past two years.
Between 2012 and 2022, EU imports from China nearly tripled, with chemicals, machinery and what are classified as “other manufactured goods” accounting for the lion’s share of Beijing’s exports to the bloc. The EU’s own exports to China almost doubled over the same period.
In 2022, China was the EU’s largest source of imports with a share above 20% of the bloc’s total imports. The second-largest share belonged to the US, but the figure was far behind at 11.9%. The trade balance between China and the EU has also been shifting heavily in Beijing’s favor. In 2022, Eurostat reported a trade deficit to China of €395.7 billion ($426.6 billion).
Russia’s trade turnover with China has also been rapidly growing in recent years. In 2021, it increased by 35.8% to reach $146.8 billion, TASS reported. In 2022, it grew further by 29.3% to $190.3 billion, reaching an all-time high. The growth was mostly a result of Russia’s increased exports to China, the Chinese customs service reported in January 2023.
According to Chinese officials, Russia’s exports to China grew by 43.4% to $114 billion in 2022, while Moscow’s imports from China increased by 12.8% to $76.12 billion over the same period. Last year, Russia had a positive trade balance with China of $38 billion, according to TASS.