US senator proposes sanctions on Chinese purchases of Russian LNG, oil
US Republican senator Marco Rubio has proposed that Washington impose sanctions on China's purchase of oil, LNG and other energy supplies from Russia, prompting a stern rebuke from Beijing.
China, already one of the largest buyers of Russian oil before the Ukraine conflict began, has expanded its purchases in recent months, taking advantage of the steep discount that Russian crude grades currently trade at. China also took some 2.33mn metric tons of Russian LNG in the first half of the year, valued at an estimated $2.16bn, according to Chinese customs data.
Florida lawmaker Rubio introduced a bill on July 26 with fellow Republicans Rick Scott and Kevin Cramer that would penalise entities that provide insurance for or register tankers shipping oil or LNG to China from Russia, Rubio's office said in a statement. By taking Russian energy exports, China is supporting Moscow's war in Ukraine, the senator said.
"Any entity, including Chinese state-run companies, helping them in that effort should face serious consequences," he said.
The bill will likely face opposition in the Democrat-controlled senate, as the Biden administration is not to ban Russian energy exports to China and other major buyers such as Asia, but to introduce a price cap. But Washington has so far been unable to get Beijing on board with the proposal.
Rubio and Scott earlier this month also proposed a bill that would prohibit the sale of US oil and petroleum products to China, in order to "ensure we do not unwittingly aid and support our primary adversary."
“While gas prices soar across the country, the Biden Administration is allowing half a million barrels of American oil to go to China every day,” Rubio said. “This is unacceptable. We need to increase American oil production and give priority to domestic consumers, not send oil to a genocidal regime half a world away.”