Chinese lenders stepped in to extend billions of dollars to Russian banks as western institutions pulled back their operations in the country during the first year of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, reports the Financial Times. The moves by four of China’s biggest banks are part of Beijing’s efforts to promote the renminbi as an alternative global currency to the dollar. The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, Bank of China, China Construction Bank and Agricultural Bank of China increased their combined exposure to Russia from $2.2 billion to $9.7 billion in the 14 months to March, according to Russian central bank data, with ICBC and Bank of China accounting for $8.8 billion of the assets between them.
China’s exposure to Russia’s banking sector quadrupled in the 14 months to the end of March this year, according to the latest official data analysed for the Financial Times by the Kyiv School of Economics.
The lenders took the place of western banks, which came under acute pressure from regulators and politicians in their home countries to exit Russia, while international sanctions made doing business much harder.