Despite sharing strong ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin and criticizing the West over the sanctions against Russia, China's President Xi Jinping has not stepped in to help Moscow.
Radio Free Europe reported that the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), a Chinese-led development bank, suspended all business with Russia and Belarus on March 3, a possible sign of the limits to Beijing and Moscow's relationship.
Similarly, the Shanghai-based New Development Bank also suspended business with Russia the same day.
Meanwhile, many companies including PayPal, American Express Sunday announced the suspension of their operations in Russia and Belarus over the ongoing military operation in Ukraine.
This comes a day after credit card and payment giants Mastercard and Visa announced that they were suspending operations in Russia and that their cards issued by Russian banks will no longer work outside the country.
"In light of Russia's ongoing, unjustified attack on the people of Ukraine, American Express is suspending all operations in Russia. As a result, globally issued American Express cards will no longer work at merchants or ATMs in Russia," American Express said in a statement.
Economic ties between the countries, however, have strengthened in recent years, with bilateral trade soaring to turn China into Russia's largest trading partner as the countries sought to deal more in Chinese yuan, which is outside the US-dollar financial system, Radio Free Europe reported.
Strengthening ties between Moscow and Beijing were underscored by a meeting on February 5, when President Vladimir Putin met Chairman Xi Jinping during the Winter Olympics, their first face-to-face meeting in more than two years. The China-Russia Comprehensive Partnership of Coordination for a New Era was agreed on 5 June 2019, when Xi visited Putin. That was his eighth visit to Russia since 2013, underscoring closer ties between the two strongmen.
According to Al Jazeera, even as Beijing has refused to term Putin's action on Ukraine an "invasion" and condemned Western-led sanctions, Chinese state-owned financial institutions have been quietly distancing themselves from Russia's economy.
The moves suggest a careful balancing act by Beijing as it seeks to buttress ties with Moscow without openly violating sanctions, which could jeopardise its access to key Western export markets and the US dollar-centric international financial system, the media outlet said.
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