• Western companies are exiting Russia en masse after the invasion of Ukraine, and China is eyeing a way in.
  • China’s move is not to support Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but to boost energy and food security.
  • Russia is a major exporter of commodities which prices have surged on supply disruption fears.

Beijing is talking to its state-owned firms about acquiring or boosting stakes in Russian energy and commodity companies, according to Bloomberg, citing people familiar with the matter.

Authorities in Beijing are discussing such investments with state-owned firms including China National Petroleum Corp, China Petrochemical Corp (Sinopec,) Aluminum Corp of China (Chinalco,) and China Minmetals, Bloomberg reported. Russian companies targeted could include the likes of aluminum giant Rusal and gas titan Gazprom, the media outlet added.

The development comes as Western companies — including oil giants like BP and Shell — exit Russia en masse after the invasion of Ukraine.

China’s move is not to support Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but to boost China’s energy and food security, Bloomberg reported, citing its sources.

The talks between Beijing and the Chinese companies are in early stages, and may not result in deals, Bloomberg reported. Some Chinese and Russian companies have also started talking.

CNPC, Sinopec, Chinalco, and Minmetals did not immediately reply to Insider’s request for comment.

Russia is a major exporter of commodities including oil, natural gas, wheat, and metals. Prices of the commodities have already surged on the back of supply disruptions due to the war in Ukraine and Western sanctions against Russia’s invasion.

Authorities in China are already pushing state-owned companies to snap up commodities on the international markets including oil and gas, and grains, Bloomberg reported on March 2.

China has not publicly condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine or called it an invasion. Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Monday China’s friendship with Russia was “rock solid,” per Reuters. Unlike Western companies, most Chinese companies are staying on in Russia.

Western companies’ exodus from Russia could create opportunities for China, said a former Japanese economy, trade, and industry minister.

“If we leave now, there are countries like China who desperately want liquefied natural gas. Those countries will take the gas for cheap. We need to be pragmatic,” said Hiroshige Seko, who is now upper house secretary-general at the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, Nikkei reported, citing a NHK interview with Seko on Sunday.

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