On China’s snowy border with Russia, a dealership that sells trucks has seen its sales double in the past year thanks to Russian customers. China’s exports to its neighbor are so strong that Chinese construction workers built warehouses and 20-story office towers at the border this summer.
The border town Heihe is a microcosm of China’s ever closer economic relationship with Russia. China is profiting from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has led Russia to switch from the West to China for purchases of everything from cars to computer chips.
Russia, in turn, has sold oil and natural gas to China at deep discounts. Russian chocolates, sausages and other consumer goods have become plentiful in Chinese supermarkets. Trade between Russia and China surpassed $200 billion in the first 11 months of this year, a level the countries had not expected to reach until 2024.
Russia’s war in Ukraine has also gotten an image boost from China. State media disseminates a steady diet of Russian propaganda in China and around the world. Russia is so popular in China that social media influencers flock to Harbin, the capital of China’s northernmost province in the east, Heilongjiang, to pose in Russian garb in front of a former Russian cathedral there.
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