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The search for alternative investors and markets has been a political priority for President Vladimir Putin since Western countries imposed economic sanctions on Russia last year. The resulting pivot to China may seem merely cosmetic, but it is happening. China has become one of the two biggest sources of funding and investment for the Russian economy. The Chinese share of Russian trade is growing, too.

Russia received only $21 billion in net foreign direct investment last year, compared with $69.2 billion in 2013. Most of the money came from offshore havens such as Cyprus, the Bahamas and the British Virgin Islands. Among non-offshore source countries, China, with its $1.3 billion in direct investment, was second only to France. That’s a tiny amount, but a sign of change: In previous years, Chinese investment never exceeded $450 million.

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