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Chinese tech firms remains silent as U.S., EU firms cut Russia ties


This image shows a screen from the Russian President Putin’s office at Novo-Ogaryovo showing China’s President Xi Jinping during a bilateral call.

Mikhail Metzel | Tass | Getty Images

American and European businesses have severed ties to Russia since the invading of Ukraine. But, Chinese technology companies remain quiet.

CNBC reached nine large Chinese tech companies, and only one of them provided comments. Rest of the companies declined to comment, or didn’t return our responses.

While the leaders of Europe, Asia, and America have sanctioned Russia as well as President Vladimir Putin, China has refused to call the attack an invasion.

AppleIt was Tuesday stopped selling its products in Russia. It also claimed that the iPhone giant had removed Russian-backed media outlets RT News & Sputnik News (all other than Russia) from its App Store.

GoogleHas removed both news outletsYou can also access the Play Store Europe.

NikeOnline purchases made by the company were not allowed in Russia because it could not guarantee delivery to Russia. Meanwhile, major movie studios including DisneyWarner Bros. halted theatrical releases of upcoming films in Russia.

Chinese firms remain silent

Over the last few months, Russia and China have grown closer. December was the birthday of Xi Jinping (Chinese leader). held a call with Putin. The Russian president called Xi his “dear friend” and declared that the relations between their two countries were at “an unprecedentedly elevated level”.

China did not respond to Russia’s invasion in Ukraine by issuing sanctions and condemnation like the West. Officials avoided calling the attack an invasionInstead, they have deflected the blame onto the U.S.

China’s regulator for banking and insurance said it opposes and will not join financial sanctionsRussia.

Many Western corporations have voiced their opposition to the war in Russia and have reduced Russian business, but Chinese companies remain silent and have taken very little action.

Chinese businesses are concerned about the China-Russia relations. They don’t want to upset Beijing with a political position (i.e. “Exiting Russia”),” Abishur Prakash (co-founder) of the Center for Innovating the Future advisory firm told CNBC Wednesday via email.

Chinese businesses are unlikely to act geopolitically unless China’s foreign policy is changed suddenly. Whatever tone Beijing set, that is what these companies will adopt. The tone right now is support tacitly for Russia.

Consumer electronics makers Huawei, XiaomiHonor declined to respond when CNBC contacted them.

Oppo’s smartphone manufacturer did not reply to multiple inquiries for comment.

Realme is Russia’s fourth largest smartphone company. It said that it was “still closely monitoring the situation and waiting to receive more information.”

Meanwhile, AlibabaThe company declined to comment. The Chinese firm has a joint venture in Russia with internet company Group, Russian mobile-telecommunications operator MegaFon and sovereign-wealth fund Russian Direct Investment Fund.

Baidu search and the gaming titans Tencent NetEaseThe company did not respond to requests for comment.

Chinese ride-hailing firm DidiRDIF also counts as an investor. Russian operations are available to the company. Didi last week announced it was leaving Russia due to “changing market conditions,” but didn’t mention the Ukraine conflict. Soon after Didi made the announcement, it changed course and declared that it would continue to operate its Russia business.

Multiple CNBC comment requests were not returned by Didi.

TikTok, owned by Beijing-based ByteDance is the only Chinese company to have taken any action. TikTok announced it would limit access to Russian state-controlled sites RT or Sputnik in Europe.