Russian military engineers in Kerch, Crimea, May 5. (File photo/CFP)
China may have tacitly recognized the legitimacy of Russia's annexation of Crimea, since its state-run China Railway Construction Corporation and Hong Kong-based private China International Fund are said to have inked a deal with the Russian Ministry of Transport and the highway authority in May, reports Hong Kong-based newspaper Ta Kung Pao.
The country has outwardly claimed to have taken a neutral stance over the Crimea issue since it abstained from a resolution of the UN Security Council on March 15 this year. However, China's potential participation in the construction of the Kerch Strait Bridge–which would link the Kerch Peninsula of Crimea and the Taman Peninsula of Krasnodar in Russia–could be interpreted as a sign of Beijing's tacit acknowledgement of Crimea's incorporation into Russia.
Russian newspaper Kommersant said the Russian transport ministry had been planning to sign a memorandum of understanding over the bridge with China. The project could involve US$1.2 billion-$3 billion in investment and part of it could be settled in the renminbi. The Chinese state railway company and the fund were reported to have taken part in the project.
Russian experts said the project could strengthen Sino-Russian relations after Russia's ties with western countries deteriorated. The experts expressed concern that Russian companies were unlikely to be successful in bids for infrastructure projects, since Chinese companies are set to launch large infrastructure projects in Crimea.