Earlier on Friday, Australia said that China’s move to ease restrictions on Russia’s wheat exports at a time when a Russian military operation in Ukraine is underway is unacceptable.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry has responded to Australia’s criticism of Beijing developing trade cooperation with Moscow.
The ministry stressed that such collaboration is based on mutual respect and benefits, adding that China has a “normal” trade relationship with Russia.
The statement comes shortly after Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison stated that China easing restrictions on Russia’s wheat exports amid the ongoing Russian military operation in Ukraine is unacceptable.
“At a time when the world was seeking to put additional sanctions on Russia, they have eased restrictions on trade of Russian wheat into China. So, at a time when Australia, together with the United Kingdom, together with the United States and Europe and Japan, are acting to cut off Russia, the Chinese government is following through on easing trade restrictions with Russia, and that is simply unacceptable”, Morrison told reporters.
The remarks followed Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping meeting in Beijing on 4 February, during the opening of the 2022 Winter Olympics in the Chinese capital.
After the meeting, Moscow and Beijing adopted bilateral agreements expanding the list and volume of grain supplied from Russia to China. In particular, the accords allowed for wheat and barley to be sent to China from all over Russia.
On Thursday, President Putin announced that Moscow had started a special operation to demilitarise and de-Nazify Ukraine, following requests from the Donbass republics to help protect them from the Ukrainian Army, which has intensified the shelling of LPR and DPR’s positions and infrastructure over the past week. Russia’s move prompted backlash from the US and its Western allies, who have intensified sanctions against Russia.