The China-Russia energy relationship is more robust than it has been at any other time over the past decade. Russia’s crude oil exports to China more than quintupled between 2008 and 2017, with the country displacing Saudi Arabia as China’s top crude supplier in 2016. Meanwhile, Russia is poised to become a major supplier of natural gas to China within the next decade as new export projects commence operations and ramp up to full capacity. This paper analyzes the factors that have contributed to this strengthening relationship, with a focus on the strategic provision of capital by Chinese financial institutions to Russian energy companies both to secure large-volume, long-term contracts for oil and natural gas supplies and to develop the infrastructure to deliver them to China. This paper also examines the emergence of new Chinese crude importers as a secondary driver of the deepening China-Russia energy relationship.
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