Exclusive: How Chinese influencers are promoting Russian produce as imports surge

China’s most influential social media platform has been flooded with bizarre new marketing videos urging Chinese residents to buy imported Russian produce.

“Russian beef, fish and other grains are all pure green. They are mostly imported into China. They are very delicious. Especially the whole wheat bread is quite good. I have been to Russia in 1991, and the bread and sausages are delicious,” writes one Chinese WeChat influencer in a recent post, viewed by hundreds of thousands.

An accompanying video shows Russia’s President Vladimir Putin in a field of wheat with another man, followed by a much less flattering image of Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison looking angry.

That’s just the start.

Another video shared by an influencer, also with hundreds of thousands of views, shows Russians rolling around in grain. A blonde girl runs through through fields. Then you see freshly baked bread.

The voice over promotes the health benefits of Russian wheat and the purity of Russia’s agriculture industry.

“I love this friendship,” a Chinese WeChat user writes.

It’s not clear who’s behind the recent influx of ‘advertisements’ on the social media network but one Chinese social media analyst told Asia Markets the increase in pro-Russia marketing on WeChat has been clear since the United States imposed sanctions on Russia earlier this year.

“Few Governments use social media influencers as well as China,” the analyst told this publication.

For Chinese residents, however, there is currently little choice when it comes to imported favourites.

U.S. and Australian beef has long been loved by the Chinese consumer.

Australian seafood has been a delicacy – sold in the finest Chinese restaurants to wealthy Chinese people.

But as western allies further alienate themselves from the east, Chinese residents are having to get accustomed to Russian produce. And there’s plenty of it.

With sanctions imposed on Russia exports by all allies of the U.S., Russia is looking to China’s enormous domestic economy to fill the void.

China Russia rail freight volumes hit new highs

Both Chinese and Russian Government data shows Russian rail freight into China has surged by around 37% since the invasion of Ukraine.

While last week, state media within the two countries reported an agreement to further increase the number of freight trains passing through shared border crossings. That plan includes utlizing the new Tongjiang-Nizhneleninskoye Railway Bridge.

With barely any coverage in western media, the mammoth infrastructure project was completed this week as Russia linked its section of the bridge to the Chinese section which was completed last year.

The Chinese Government says testing will now be conducted and sanitization stations constructed in the coming weeks, before the bridge becomes fully operational in August.

The 2,200 meter bridge over the Heilongjiang River is a game-changer for China Russia trade.

Construction began in 2014 as Russia shifted its sights eastward. It reduces a freight train’s travel time from Heilongjiang in China’s north, to Moscow by about 800 kilometers and 10 hours.

While 2021 saw trade between China and Russia exceed US$140 billion for the first time in history, Russia now says it expects trade with China to reach $200 billion by 2024.

Russia currently accounts for 65.3 percent of China’s total energy imports.

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