Singapore’s primary Chinese language newspaper Lianhe Zaobao recently reported that, since the outbreak of the Ukrainian war last year, Western institutions have imposed a series of sanctions on Russia, and banking institutions have also stopped operations in Russia. However, China’s Big Four banks are lending billions of dollars to Russia, filling the gap left by Western banking institutions. China’s four largest banks, including Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, Agricultural Bank of China, China Construction Bank and Bank of China, have quadrupled their exposure to Russia since the war began. At the beginning of 2022, the total loans of the four major banks in Russia were US$2.2 billion. According to the Russian Central Bank, in the 14 months to the end of March this year, this figure increased to nearly US$10 billion. This is part of China’s push to make the Chinese Yuan a global currency that will replace the U.S. dollar. More than 70 percent of trade settlements between Russia and China have been using local currencies. Almost all the currency used by China to purchase Russian oil in the past year was RMB. Before the war, more than 60 percent of Russia’s exports were paid in U.S. dollars and Euros, with RMB accounting for less than one percent.
Source: Lianhe Zaobao, September 5, 2023