While many Western companies in recent weeks and months have publicly announced their withdrawal from the Russian market due to the war in Ukraine, the official Chinese government line has been not to impose sanctions on Russia. Despite this, some tech companies have recently withdrawn their products from the Russian market–in most cases, because of pressure from U.S. suppliers.
The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reports that both Lenovo, the world’s largest maker of PCs, and smartphone and gadget producer Xiaomi have pulled out of Russia. While these companies have not commented further, their decision is likely due to pressure from American chipmakers. Suppliers had approached companies that use U.S. chips in their products in March, urging them to comply with the sanctions so that American chips would no longer be sold in Russia.
According to the WSJ, the Chinese government had already called on companies in April “not to submit to external coercion and make improper external statements.” China has established regulations that could force Chinese companies not to comply with foreign sanctions if the government does not support those sanctions. However, such non-compliance orders have not yet been issued. Nevertheless, the number of exports from China to Russia fell 27% from February to March.
Western sanctions are expected to fuel China’s efforts to develop supply chains independent from the U.S., but a solution to this is not yet in sight.
One of the few Chinese manufacturers to comment on their withdrawal from the Russian and Ukrainian markets is drone manufacturer DJI. After receiving reports that DJI drones were used in the conflict, the company decided to leave both markets until further notice. “DJI has taken this action not to make a statement about any country, but to make a statement about our principles,” according to a DJI spokesman. “DJI abhors any use of our drones to cause harm, and we are temporarily suspending sales in these countries in order to help ensure no one uses our drones in combat.”
David Boos is an organist, documentary filmmaker, and writer for The European Conservative and other publications.