Under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Beijing has invested nearly a trillion US dollars ($932 billion, or £774billion) in construction in countries including Russia since 2013. But since the war began, Chinese engagement in new investments under the scheme in Russia dropped by 100%, according to a brief released by the Green Finance & Development Center (GFDC) of the Fudan University in Shanghai.
Sri Lanka and Egypt, both close allies of Putin, also saw zero engagement from China, while investments in Pakistan dropped by about 56%, the data shows.
Overall, Chinese engagement through financial investments and contractual cooperation for the first half of 2022 in the 147 countries of the BRI was about $28.4billion (£23.6 billion).
Shortly before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Beijing and Moscow announced a “no limits” partnership.
Director of the centre, Christoph Nedopil Wang, said that the threat of western-led sanctions could have deterred China from investing in Russia, the Financial Times reported.
Nedolip Wang commented that while slowing its investments in Russia, China deepened its engagement with the Middle East.
The expert noted that the fall may be “only temporary” and that there was “definitely strong engagement between Russia and China”.
He added that Chinese purchases of Russian energy exports have increased despite the war, according to the FT.
The biggest recipient of Chinese investments since the start of the year was Saudi Arabia, with a total of about $5.5billion (£4.5billion).
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However, a Chinese developer won a bid to build a thermal power plant in Indonesia in February, and there are still 11.2 gigawatts of capacity that have already secured financing though are yet to begin construction, according to the GFDC report.
China has continued to provide support to other fossil fuel projects in Belt and Road countries, with oil and gas amounting to around 80% of China’s overseas energy investments and 66% of its construction contracts, GFDC said.
Engagements in gas projects stood at $6.7billion (£5.5billion) in the first half, compared with $9.5billion (£7.9billion) over the whole of last year, it said.