While the war in Ukraine has just reached its fiftieth day, China, Moscow’s close diplomatic and economic partner, has still not condemned the Russian invasion. The Asian giant is content to call on all parties to exercise restraint and dialogue. In this context, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on Wednesday (April 13) that China’s position vis-à-vis Russia threatens its “integration” in the global economy.
“China has recently affirmed its special relationship with Russia. I fervently hope that China will do something positive with this relationship and help end this war.” said Janet Yellen. She also warned the Asian giant that “In the future, it will be increasingly difficult to separate economic issues from broader considerations of national interest, including national security.”
Asked this Thursday, April 14, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed its dissatisfaction. “We are making great efforts to ease the situation, resolve the crisis and restore peace,” said Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for Chinese diplomacy, calling not to “distort position” from Beijing. “The sovereignty of Ukraine must be preserved. Russia’s legitimate security concerns must also be respected,” he repeated during a press conference.
“Time will eventually prove that China is on the right side of history”
The American minister, more broadly, castigated the countries and companies which have not severed their commercial ties with Russia, stressing that these countries no doubt hope “fill the void left by others by preserving their relations with Russia. This kind of motivation does not last in the long term.
“We oppose unjustified accusations and suspicions against China, not to mention any pressure or coercion against it,” Zhao Lijian said. And to add: “Time will eventually prove that China is on the right side of history.”
Beijing nevertheless believes, like Moscow, that the expansion of NATO contributed to triggering the war in Ukraine. China’s position vis-à-vis Russia contrasts with that of the West, which has strongly condemned the military operation in Ukraine and imposed sanctions against the Russian economy and leaders, including asset freezes and transaction bans against major Russian banks.
Inflation is rising in China too, especially because of the war
Inflation accelerated sharply last month in China. In March, the consumer price index rose by 1.5% over one year against 0.9% in February, announced the National Bureau of Statistics (BNS). Experts were betting on a lower increase, around 1.4%, according to the consensus of the financial agency Bloomberg.
This increase is related to “the global increase in wheat, corn and soybean prices” noted Dong Lijuan, a statistician with the BNS. World food prices have indeed soared since Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February. The prices of fresh vegetables thus increased by 17.2% over one year.
Another reason for this increase in inflation: the epidemic outbreaks that multiplied in China last month. The country has been hit by Covid-19 like never since the initial wave appeared in the country at the end of 2019. Tens of millions of Chinese find themselves confined to their homes, leading to supply difficulties and a surge in the prices of certain products. .
“The consumer price index may continue to rise in April as households across China stock up on food and other items amid the lockdown in Shanghai,” observes economist Ting Lu of Nomura Bank.