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Russia as an influence proxy for China ?

Just as North Korea has long played the role of China’s nuclear deterrent proxy and Beijing has been capitalizing on Moscow’s frontal opposition to Washington in the Middle East, fresh information point towards Russia acting as a beard for Chinese interests in Latin America.

Data from Lloyd’s List Maritime Intelligence indeed show that close to 80% of Venezuelan crude oil is being shipped to China by Russian tankers chartered by Russia’s Rosneft trading arm, with ship-to-ship transfer done in Malaysia “to disguise the origin and destination of unsold cargoes“. This enables Chinese refiners to officially purchase unsold crude oil in Malaysia, thus circumventing recently strengthened US sanctions on Caracas and retain their economic influence, albeit now indirectly, in Venezuela.

The report also shows that Malaysian port infrastructures in Malacca and Port Dickson are being used similarly for floating-storage and transfering of Iranian oil, also under US sanctions, to China.

This using of international proxies could indeed be another aspect of China’s Belt & Road Initiative 2.0: a softer, more consensual and, when necessary, indirect approach to building its sphere of influence and to weakening Washington’s…

Picture credits: AP Photo

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