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China’s oil imports from Russia jump 55pc y-o-y

BEIJING (AFP) – China’s imports of oil from Russia in May rose 55 per cent year-on-year, customs data showed yesterday, with the West sanctioning fuel imports from Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.

The world’s second-biggest economy imported around 8.42 million tonnes of oil from Russia last month, as Beijing continued to refuse to condemn Moscow’s war.

The latest number was a spike from the 5.44 million tonnes China imported in May 2021, according to figures from the Customs Administration, helping Russia to overtake Saudi Arabia as China’s main source of oil. In May, China imported 7.82 million tonnes of oil from Saudi Arabia.

The new customs data comes four months into the war in Ukraine, with other buyers avoiding Russian energy imports.

Although demand in China remains muted, there has been some improvement in the past month as cities began to loosen virus restrictions after the country’s worst COVID outbreak since the early days of the pandemic.

Oil and gas tanks at an oil warehouse at a port in Zhuhai, China. PHOTO: CNA

This has allowed some supply chain problems to ease and industrial production to pick up, official data showed.

China’s latest purchases of Russian oil marked a record amount, according to Bloomberg News.

Beijing – which has repeatedly refused to condemn Moscow’s bloody invasion of Ukraine – has also been accused of providing diplomatic cover for Russia by blasting Western sanctions and arms sales to Kyiv.

Once bitter Cold War enemies, Beijing and Moscow have stepped up cooperation in recent years as a counterbalance to what they see as United States global dominance.