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China OKs all imports of Russian wheat amid Ukraine crisis

Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) pose for a picture during their meeting in Beijing on February 4. Kremlin Pool Photo by Alexei Druzhinin/Sputnik/EPA-EFE
Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) pose for a picture during their meeting in Beijing on February 4. Kremlin Pool Photo by Alexei Druzhinin/Sputnik/EPA-EFE

Feb. 24 (UPI) -- China lifted all its wheat-import sanctions on Russia amid the Ukraine crisis, signifying a strengthening between Moscow-Beijing relations as the United States and its allies impose new sanctions on Russia.

China's General Administration of Customs announced the decision Thursday, hours after Russia launched an attack on Ukraine.

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The move solidifies an agreement made during Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to Beijing earlier this month.

One of the largest wheat producers, Russia hasn't exported to China amid concerns about possible contamination and bacteria.

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China and Russia agreed on Feb. 8 that China would import Russian wheat and barley on the condition that Russia take all measures to prevent contamination.

Under the agreement, exports to China would be suspended if any fungus or contamination in the wheat or barley is found.

China faced unprecedented hardships caused by flooding in the sowing period last year, according to China's agricultural ministry on Wednesday.

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The sowing of 18 million acres of wheat -- accounting for one-third of the country's wheat plantation area -- was postponed due to rare floods.

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Affairs Tang Renjian said China will make all-out efforts to secure grain during the summer harvest.

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The ministry released a five-year plan on farming in 2020 and has a target to produce 1.5 trillion pounds of grain by 2025.

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Though China called for restraint and respect for national sovereignty, it's the only large government to not condemn Putin's attack on Ukraine.

"China maintains that the Cold War mentality should be completely abandoned and a balanced, effective and sustainable European security mechanism should be finally established through dialogue and negotiation," said State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

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