Siberia - where Russia meets China!

bengalraider

DFI Technocrat
Ambassador
Joined
Oct 10, 2009
Messages
3,778
Likes
2,584
Country flag
Meet the Siberian Liberation Army
Where Russia Meets China: Part 1 of a 5-part series in cooperation with Slate.

BY JOSHUA KUCERA | DECEMBER 28, 2009

BY JOSHUA KUCERA | DECEMBER 28, 2009

IRKUTSK, Russia -- When you're the leader of a fringe political group, a cafe called "I'm Waiting for a UFO" may not be the best place to take a visiting journalist. But it's possible that alien abduction is more likely than what Mikheil Kulekhov is working for: Siberian independence.

Kulekhov was the head of the Siberian Liberation Army until officers from the FSB (the successor to the KGB) contacted him. "They asked me: 'Why are you calling yourselves an army? Are you going to take up arms?'" Assured that wasn't the case, the officers asked Kulekhov to change the organization's name. He did, and it is now the National Alternative of Siberia. (The two names share the same acronym in Russian, OAS, he points out.)

That Russian security let these would-be secessionists off with nothing more than a gentle scolding is probably a reflection of the group's modest size: Kulekhov counts about 30 members in the OAS. So, Siberia is not Chechnya.

Siberian independence is unlikely. But this region's long-term political and economic future is uncertain. Much of the oil and natural gas that has fueled Russia's booming economy over the last decade is found in eastern Siberia, and the area is also rich in timber, minerals, and other natural resources. But it doesn't have very many people. This was the last part of Russia to be settled, and the Russian history of much of eastern Siberia stretches back barely 100 years.

Contrary to Siberia's reputation, most of the cities I visited were pleasant -- Irkutsk, in particular, has gracious architecture and a bookish college-town feel. Siberians boast that they tend to be smarter and better-looking than their compatriots, because so much of Russia's elite was shipped out here when Siberia was used as a penal colony. But life here has always been difficult; it's remote and, in the winter, bitterly cold. The Soviets encouraged Russians to settle here, but after the collapse of the Soviet Union, people started heading west: The population of Russia east of Irkutsk decreased from 8 million to 6 million between 1998 and 2002 (the date of the last census). What would this mass exodus mean for Russia? Perhaps Russia's greatest claim to being a great power is its immense size, and a shrinking population in its farthest reaches could call its claim on Siberia -- and by extension its authority on the world stage -- into question. I was traveling through this region, heading east from Irkutsk, to see how Russia is holding on to its Far East.

Kulekhov bases his argument for independence on three pillars: the geographic, economic, and cultural uniqueness of Siberia. Irkutsk, he notes, is farther from Moscow than New York is from London, and Russian involvement in Siberia is analogous to the British colonization of the New World. "We're so far away, it's easy to see that we're a different country," he said. Economically, he argues, Siberia has more trade with Asia than it does with the European part of Russia, and too much of the income from this region's vast natural resources ends up in Moscow.

What's more, Siberians have unique "national characteristics. We are very skeptical, don't trust anyone, we're difficult to negotiate with, and we do things the way we want them to be done. We're individualists." While ethnic Russians everywhere are Orthodox Christian, in Siberia they have a syncretic bent, incorporating some elements of the Buddhist and shamanistic traditions of the indigenous peoples of Siberia. (The green-and-white OAS logo nods to that ecumenism, incorporating a cross as well as a circular form that refers to Buddhist chakras.)

The OAS is claiming its place in the long history of Siberian political independence movements, from 19th-century intellectuals who first posited the existence of a Siberian identity distinct from Russianness to a short-lived anti-Bolshevik Provisional Government of Autonomous Siberia in the chaotic days after the Russian Civil War. Every year, OAS members make a pilgrimage to the grave of one of the early heroes of Siberian independence, and during my visit, the group's newspaper ran a front-page feature on the police force of the post-civil war autonomous government.

Kulekhov claims solidarity with other secessionist movements, which, he says, are everywhere in Russia. But at least for now, Russia is heading in the opposite direction. Regional governors used to be elected by local voters, but in 2004, then-President Vladimir Putin changed the law and decided to appoint the governors directly, greatly increasing the Kremlin's authority over Russia's far-flung regions. This would become a running theme throughout my trip: how distant Moscow rules Siberia imperiously, with little regard for the wishes of the people here. The word colony came up again and again in conversation.

Mikhail Rozhansky, a political analyst in Irkutsk, said there is no hope for Siberian independence. But its appeal is obvious. "It's understandable why people here have this dream-they don't want to feel like they're on the edge of the world," he said.

"Everything is centralized; everything is a colony of Moscow. Even regions close to Moscow still feel like they're living on the edge of Russia," Rozhansky said. Although that centralization creates resentment, it also makes it hard for strong regionalism to develop: "Ties between Irkutsk and Moscow are closer than the ties between Irkutsk and Krasnoyarsk," another Siberian city.

A key component of the Siberian character is rootlessness, Rozhansky added. The first Russian settlers came here not because it was a pleasant place to live but because they were chasing the valuable natural resources of the time: furs. And that hasn't changed, even if today the goal is work in the timber or petroleum industries.

"Even if people came four centuries ago, they feel like life here is temporary," he said. "People have always come here because of the natural resources, not because they wanted to. And there's no tradition of compromise-people will just leave, find a new place to live."

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articl...ion_army?print=yes&hidecomments=yes&page=full
 

F-14

Global Defence Moderator
Senior Member
Joined
Apr 20, 2009
Messages
1,563
Likes
25
I know 777 I understand how you feel but Mother russia is not some house of cards you know
 

bengalraider

DFI Technocrat
Ambassador
Joined
Oct 10, 2009
Messages
3,778
Likes
2,584
Country flag
dear jako

I seem to have offended you to no end with this article , for which i apologize .While it is sad that you seem to not want to face your demons and look at the issue from a western world view .i respect your apprehensions and views on the article . I would like to request the mods & admins to delete this thread if they so see fit.
 

bengalraider

DFI Technocrat
Ambassador
Joined
Oct 10, 2009
Messages
3,778
Likes
2,584
Country flag
From: Joshua Kucera
Subject: Don't Call Them Twin Cities
Posted Monday, Dec. 28, 2009, at 3:44 PM ET

BLAGOVESHCHENSK, Russia—Across the Amur River, which forms the border between Russia and China, the city of Heihe gleams. The brand-new Yuan Dun shopping center juts into the water, its name written in Cyrillic letters large enough to be seen the half-mile across the river. At night, the Vegas-like lights of Heihe's downtown reflect in the river, and a spotlight makes circles in the sky, like a car dealership trying to draw customers.

Among Russians in Blagoveshchensk, a two-day train ride east of Irkutsk, the sight of Heihe across the water is a source of both admiration and defensiveness. During my time here I was told over and over that although Heihe looks impressive from a distance, up close the city can be dirty and chaotic. Others mentioned that that the central government in Beijing lavishes extra attention on Heihe—other cities of its size don't have those bright lights—because it's on the border. Russians have seen this sort of thing before: "It's a Potemkin village," said Mikhail Kukharenko, the Russian head of the Chinese-government-run Confucius Institute in Blagoveshchensk.

At the same time, Russians love Heihe. Several ferries a day carry over tourists and shoppers looking for cheap Chinese electronics and clothes, and so many people made their livelihood in the "suitcase trade"—buying cheap things in China to sell for a profit in Russia—that Blagoveshchensk's downtown has a monument to the traders, complete with an inscription that reads, "For the hard work and optimism of the entrepreneurs of the Amur," referring to the region that includes Blagoveshchensk.

For most of the last century, this border was closed. In 1969, the Soviet Union and China even fought a battle over a disputed island farther downstream. Hundreds of soldiers died.

But it reopened in 1989, and the fact that ordinary Russians and Chinese could cross the border freely added a new wrinkle to the already complex relationship between the two powers. In particular, Russians were forced to confront an uncomfortable demographic fact: This part of their country was strategically important, badly underpopulated, and right next to a China bursting at the seams.

The Russian Far East, the eastern edge of Siberia that borders China and the Pacific Ocean, has only 6 million people, and that number is dropping fast. Just across the border, though, the three provinces of northeastern China have about 110 million people. Meanwhile, the Russian Far East has substantial reserves of oil, natural gas, and coal, which China needs to run its supercharged economy.

All that has led many Russians to fear that China will eventually exert control over the region. "f we do not step up the level of activity of our work [in the Russian Far East], then in the final analysis we can lose everything," Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said last year. Kukharenko of the Confucius Institute spelled it out for me: "It's a law of physics, a vacuum has to be filled," he said. "If there are no Russian people here, there will be Chinese people."

That's why Russia has serious misgivings about its neighbors to the south, as a trip along the border makes plain. While Beijing has moved aggressively to court Russian visitors and business, Russia's central government has largely neglected the areas that act as the gateway to China. The few new buildings in Blagoveshchensk—some shopping centers and a high-rise hotel—were built by a Chinese company.

While Blagoveshchensk is relatively prosperous, at least by the standards of Russian cities of its size, Heihe has positively boomed. It was just a village in 1989, and now it has 200,000 people, about the same as Blagoveshchensk. And in contrast to Heihe's glitzy, welcoming facade, Blagoveshchensk's barely lighted waterfront promenade features a Soviet-era World War II memorial that consists of a gunship with its barrels aimed across the river, toward China.

In one telling episode, in 2007, in an apparent attempt to play up its Russian connection and appeal to tourists, Heihe placed garbage cans that were designed to look like Russian matryoshka dolls around the city. Some excessively sensitive Russians saw this as an insult—Russian culture was trash. The mini-scandal made national TV news in Russia, and the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs protested. So Heihe's government painted the trash cans over. (I later saw panda-shaped trash cans in another Chinese city, which suggests that the matryoshkas were, in fact, a friendly gesture.) In Blagoveshchensk, meanwhile, a new government-run cultural center was originally named Albazin, after the fort built by early Russian settlers to defend the territory from China, until local historians petitioned the government to change it, saying the name was unnecessarily provocative.

In several small ways, the Russian government has made it difficult for Russians and Chinese to interact. Heihe has street signs in Russian, but there is almost no Chinese to be seen in Blagoveshchensk. While Russians can cross into Heihe visa-free for a short visit, Chinese can't do the same to Blagoveshchensk. The local government gave the license to operate ferries that cross the river to a politically connected local monopoly, which charges more than $40 for the 10-minute ride. (Chinese visiting Russia use a different company, which charges much less.) China has offered to pay for a bridge between the two cities, but the Russian side has dragged its feet for years, said Yevgeny Kuzmin, a local journalist. "It's always the Chinese side that takes the initiative," he said.

The Russian government recently made the suitcase trade much more difficult by reducing the amount of clothes, electronics, and other consumer goods that Russians can bring back into the country duty-free and the frequency with which they can take such trips. One city official, who spoke to me on condition of anonymity, said that while Heihe's government is promoting the idea of Heihe and Blagoveshchensk as "twin cities," Blagoveshchensk's government is balking. "Heihe is always pushing this relationship more," she said. "They get a lot of money from the central government, so they have lots of proposals and ideas for programs, but we don't have the money for that."

The central government has given Blagoveshchensk funds for one thing, though: a new waterfront. Moscow has committed about $200 million for a five-year program to create a completely new waterfront facade for the city, a spokeswoman for the city told me. The plan will entail dumping sand into the river to add nearly 100 acres of prime riverfront real estate and then building brand-new high-rises along the new shore.

I asked if the new plan called for lights as impressive as Heihe's. "We'll do our best," she said with a smile. But the World War II memorial, with the gun pointed at China? It's staying.

Click here to view a slide show about where Russia meets China.-pictures from slideshow posted below

Joshua Kucera is a freelance writer based in Washington, D.C.
Article URL: Where Russia meets China. (2) - By Joshua Kucera - Slate Magazine


Copyright 2009 Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive Co. LLC



just so there are no more misunderstandings this article expounds a western world view on the russo-sino border region in siberia
 

bengalraider

DFI Technocrat
Ambassador
Joined
Oct 10, 2009
Messages
3,778
Likes
2,584
Country flag
some pictures from Blagoveshchensk


World War II memorial in Blagoveshchensk, Russia, points its guns across the Amur River in the direction of China.


The Yuan Dun shopping center in Heihe, China, as seen from across the river in Blagoveshchensk, Russia.


A monument to "suitcase traders," Russians who travel to China to buy cheap goods to resell in Russia. The inscription reads: "For the hard work and optimism of the entrepreneurs of the Amur."


Two Russians look across the river from Blagoveshchensk, Russia, to Heihe, China.


Construction on a new waterfront development in Blagoveshchensk, Russia; city officials hope it will compete with the impressive facade of Heihe, China, across the river.
 

A.V.

New Member
Joined
Feb 16, 2009
Messages
6,503
Likes
1,132
[mod] the article is under review if it in any way supports unrest and causes bad blood among fellow members proper action will be taken by the mods[/mod]
 

S.A.T.A

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 28, 2009
Messages
2,569
Likes
1,543
The Russian have had it coming.. eh.If htere is any shred of truth about the fact that Global warming is to an extent is irreversible,then it can be contended that the vast landmass of Siberia will not indefinitely be the inhospitable tundra that its now(atleast for most part of the year).in the coming decades Siberia will be a hotly contested piece of real estate as far a Russian neighbors are concerned.To come to think that Russia continues to supply top class military hardware to the very same country that is most likely to lead this contending pack,is most ironic.

Russia needs to know the enemy at its gate before its too late(and stop giving him your best stick which he is likely to beat you with)
 

roma

NRI in Europe
Senior Member
Joined
Aug 10, 2009
Messages
3,577
Likes
2,489
Country flag
its already happening here in Iberia this winter , more like summer

The Russian have had it coming.. eh.If htere is any shred of truth about the fact that Global warming is to an extent is irreversible,then it can be contended that the vast landmass of Siberia will not indefinitely be the inhospitable tundra that its now(atleast for most part of the year).in the coming decades Siberia will be a hotly contested piece of real estate as far a Russian neighbors are concerned.To come to think that Russia continues to supply top class military hardware to the very same country that is most likely to lead this contending pack,is most ironic.

Russia needs to know the enemy at its gate before its too late(and stop giving him your best stick which he is likely to beat you with)
guys this is not siberia, it's iberia but the results are the same ....we have had the warmest winter ever ( for a long time that i can remember )

so for me global warming is most welcome


this winter 2009 is almost as warm as the cooler summer days
 

roma

NRI in Europe
Senior Member
Joined
Aug 10, 2009
Messages
3,577
Likes
2,489
Country flag
Meet the Siberian Liberation Army
Where Russia Meets China: Part 1 of a 5-part series in cooperation with Slate.

BY JOSHUA KUCERA | DECEMBER 28, 2009






The Soviets encouraged Russians to settle here, but after the collapse of the Soviet Union, people started heading west: The population of Russia east of Irkutsk decreased from 8 million to 6 million between 1998 and 2002 (the date of the last census). What would this mass exodus mean for Russia? Perhaps Russia's greatest claim to being a great power is its immense size, and a shrinking population in its farthest reaches could call its claim on Siberia -- and by extension its authority on the world stage -- into question. I was traveling through this region, heading east from Irkutsk, to see how Russia is holding on to its Far East.

Meet the Siberian Liberation Army: Part 1 of Joshua Kucera's 5 part series: Where Russia Meets China | Foreign Policy

the dwindling population is what i had warned all our russian members about .

but my good friend vladimir said itws a long way off !!

maybe so , but i think no harm being prepared
 

A.V.

New Member
Joined
Feb 16, 2009
Messages
6,503
Likes
1,132
[mod] OK guys all comments on this page are deleted because we had a long chat with the members involved and have acted maturely and in a better way that have helped the threads
the comments are deleted because it brings wrong impressions to readers and other members hope the members would behave in a decent manner if any post hurts the feeling of national sentiments these please report to the mods they will have a review of the concerned post
as of now thread is open and the article will be completed and diverse views from other sides also incorporated members are free to debate on the whole matter

ALSO PLEASE NOTE ADVOCATING SEPARATIVE MOVEMENTS OF ANY KIND IS NOT THE POLICY OF DFI SO ANY ARTICLES TRYING TO ADVOCATE SUCH POLICIES ARE TO BE TREATED AS PERSONAL OPINIONS OF THE WRITER AND NOTHING MORE THAN THAT
I hope while debating members will take note of that [/mod]
 

bengalraider

DFI Technocrat
Ambassador
Joined
Oct 10, 2009
Messages
3,778
Likes
2,584
Country flag
Firstly i would like to thank A.V for keeping this thread open, below i post an old article from Pravda.Ru on the Chinese presence in Siberia

Chinese emigrants to conquer Siberia
16.07.2004
Source: URL: http://english.pravda.ru/russia/economics/6200-chinese-0

The problem of the Chinese emigration is becoming more serious for Russia

It seems that migration is supposed to happen at the expense of highly-qualified professionals, not poorly-educated citizens as it happens in the US. Russia is currently experiencing a rather serious situation with the Chinese unemployed. There has already been more of them saved than the entire Russian population. Furthermore, it looks like Russia is forced to deal with this issue, otherwise it will not become a WTO member. No one can guarantee that millions of Chinese unemployed will not go to labor exchange to ask for the unemployment allowance instead. It is an open secret that smart people go to California and silly people go to Siberia.

Historically, the Chinese called Siberia “the land of hunger.” The primary development of the region was over many years ago. At present time, one could do it in the Kamchatka region only. China is not likely to take care of Russia's WTO membership or the development of Siberia. If they wanted to develop the Far East, they would invest money in it, not the unemployed. However, they prefer to invest money only in saw-mills.

The last century of the oil history of humanity is drawing to its end. However, they have found oil in the “hungry country.” One may not say that Russia is strongly against the Chinese emigration. Yet, it would be more reasonable to follow the example of the American practice – to introduce special tests on history or the Russian language, for instance.

Dozens of Russian traveling agencies have been deprived of their licenses to accept tourist groups from China this year. A lot of other agencies had to pay fines too. However, spokespeople for the Russian Federal Border Guard Service say, the situation is almost out of control at the border with Kazakhstan. The Chinese population there doubles every year. They even publish several newspapers in Chinese, they have paging companies, there are even hotels and hospitals.

In Russia's Far East the Chinese make about eight percent of the six million strong population. It is 480,000 people. The Russian population is gradually becoming the minority. Small vendors introduced a special term there – a ‘100 percent flaw.’ The term is used when they buy defective goods at factories and then sell them in Russia. Such an activity is strictly prohibited in China. Furthermore, the Chinese mafia in Russia is growing very fast too. In 1994 the Chinese committed 431 crimes only in Primorye region alone. The figure increased tenfold in 2004.

It is obvious, the problem has already become serious. Former Foreign Affairs Minister Andrey Kozyrev wrote a letter to then Vice Prime Minister Anatoly Chubais: “Esteemed Mr. Chubais. According to your regulations, we have considered the letter from the Primorye region Governor Yevgeny Nazdratenko addressed to Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin. We would like to express the following thoughts about the visa-free exchange of tourists between Russia and China. The Foreign Affairs Ministry shares the concern of the law-enforcement bodies. However, it is early to say that the tourist exchange should be based on visas now.”

There are Chinese dormitories in Moscow. In the dormitories there are dirty trade halls filled with computers and sacks. One can find even small hospitals there. It goes without say that the criminal environment for such emigrants in Moscow is absolutely natural. It is hard to come across a Chinese at markets or in the street. They usually do not show up in public. They hire Russian children to work for them.

Several generations of Russian people have tried to develop Siberia. The Baikal-Amur Railway, known as BAM, may serve a bright example for it. It has recently celebrated 30 years, but it is still not finished. Attempts to turn Siberia to the penal servitude, or a camp for prisoners of war did not bring any good.

Russian people flee back to Russia from other CIS countries now. The majority of them prefer to settle somewhere closer to the center. The Kamchatka region, for example, is totally ignored. The difficulties of living in the region made it equal with living conditions on the mainland. President Putin often visits Kamchatka now, although he does not hurry to retrieve privileges for citizens of the north.

Russia's first Prime Minister Sergey Vitte used to say that Russia needs to defend itself on the west and to advance in the east. It does not concern only the military policy, it can be said about the demographic and migration policies too.

Valery Davydov
 

A.V.

New Member
Joined
Feb 16, 2009
Messages
6,503
Likes
1,132
China & Siberia

where is a well documented artice which proves why siberia will always be russian yet attract the chinese a good view from the western side

Columbia professor Padna Desai writes about the Russian demographic problem in The Wall Street Journal.

Some Russians also fear that the Chinese, seeking to increase trade, will come into the Far East and settle down permanently — and that Beijing will then somehow stake a claim on Russian territory! This is nonsense, of course, but I encountered such fevered scenarios of the “yellow peril” even among some liberal acquaintances on my recent trip to Russia.

I certainly don’t view such a conflict as a probability 1 event, but in my view it is anything but nonsense. Nature abhors a vacuum, and if present population trends continue, Siberia will become a human vacuum–but one with vast mineral wealth that China wouldn’t mind having. It is hard to imagine that a depopulated Siberia coexisting side by side with a vibrant, energy hungry, proud, and confident China is a stable long run equilibrium. Moreover, the Chinese have a long historical memory, with a particular talent for nursing historical wounds suffered at the hands of foreigners. Although the Russians do not rank with the British or the Japanese as exploiters of China during its humiliations in the 19th and early-20th centuries, they were not blameless either. As a result, I wish I shared Ms. Desai’s blithe optimism about Chinese-Russian relations over the long term, but I don’t.

Ms. Desai also suggests that immigration is a solution to Russia’s demographic dilemma. Good luck with that. Ask the Western Europeans how the immigration thing is working out for them. And if it doesn’t work in Western Europe–which it doesn’t, pace Paris car burnings, honor killings in Germany, Britain, and Sweden, etc.–it sure as hell isn’t going to work in Russia.

Addendum. Apparently the world, Goldilocks-like, is looking for a level of immigration that is “just right.” In the US, many people (arguably a majority) think it is too much. In Russia, too little. A couple of quick thoughts. First, what kind of immigrants are we talking about? Immigrants are not homogeneous. Some are skilled. Many are not. What kind of immigrants is it necessary to attract? How can you attract those immigrants (the skilled ones, presumably) without attracting the less desirable ones? Is immigration consistent with social welfare policy? (One of my intellectual heroes, Richard Epstein, said in a seminar at Michigan in the 90s that his primary objection to the welfare state is that it was incompatible with unrestricted immigration. Like many Epstein positions, not quite in the mainstream, but logically consistent and intellectually serious.) Put differently, how can you attract immigrants without attracting a disproportionate number of “gimmie-grants?” Second, where are the immigrants to Russia going to come from? China–maybe. The Middle East–probably not, and given the European experiences, its arguable that this represents the most desirable source of immigrants. And are people from places where it is routinely 35+ degrees C really want to move to where it is routinely 35- degrees C? Central Asia? Again, the disparity between educational attainment in most of Russia and Central Asia is immense, and it is doubtful that Central Asian immigrants will address the Russian labor problem. Third, the difficulties of assimilating immigrants have proven very difficult in Europe and the US, but they are likely to be immensely more difficult in Russia. Russia has no tradition of accepting immigrants. Russia is historically more insular, and arguably more xenophobic than the US or Western Europe (which is not to say by any means that xenophobia is absent in those places–this is an ordinal statement.) Language will be a barrier.

All in all, saying that immigration is the solution to Russia’s demographic challenge is fantasy. It reminds me of the standard economist joke, of which there are several variations, one of which is: An economist and a physicist are on the 50th floor of a high rise hotel. The fire alarm goes off. The economist and the physicist look out the window, and see that the entire lower part of the building is engulfed in flame. The physicist says–”there’s no way out. We’re going to die.” The economist says–”Don’t worry. We’ll just assume the existence of a 50 story ladder.” Assuming immigration to be the “solution” to Russia’s existential conundrum is no more realistic.

Addendum II. Mark Steyn weighs in:

The answer to many of China’s problems lies just across its northern border: the fast depopulating, resource-rich Russian east, which Beijing will wind up with one way or the other. If you read Mark Bassin’s masterful book Imperial Visions : Nationalist Imagination and Geographical Expansion in the Russian Far East, 1840-1865, it’s hard not to notice that the rationale behind the Russians’ sale of Alaska applies just as well to a big swath of their eastern provinces today. A century and a half ago, Grand Duke Konstantin Nikolaevich, the brother of Alexander II, argued that the Russian Empire couldn’t hold its North American territory and that one day either Britain or the United States would simply take it, so why not sell it to them first? The same argument applies now to the 2,000 miles of the Russo-Chinese border. Vladivostok will return to its old name of Haishenwei before too long.

And, given Russia’s own gender imbalance — between sickly men of low life expectancy and long-lived robust women — it doesn’t take much imagination to see a Sino-Russian union as a marriage of convenience in more than just the geopolitical sense. That’s the key difference between transatlantic Ouija boards on China: as the cannier American analysts see it, Beijing is a threat to Washington not because of its strength but because of its weakness.

As always, Steyn provides an interesting perspective. The Alaska II scenario is not implausible, but Siberia is more of an integral part of Russia–both physically and more importantly psychologically–than Alaska ever was. This makes a transactional transfer of Siberia less likely, and a violent one much more likely.

Addendum III. Richard Posner’s observation on the US & Mexico pertains to the feasibility of immigration as a palliative for Russia’s demographic problem:

As soon as per capita income in a country reaches about a third of the American level, immigration from that country dries up. Emigration is very costly emotionally as well as financially, given language and other barriers to a smooth transition to a new country, and so is frequent only when there are enormous wealth disparities between one’s homeland and a rich country like the United States. The more one worries about illegal immigrants, the more one should favor policies designed to bring about greater global income equality.

Since per capita income in Russia is already relatively low, the differential between Russian incomes and the incomes in possible sources of immigration is already small. Moreover, it is likely that the “language and other barriers to a smooth transition to a new country” are substantially greater between Russia and other countries than between the US and Mexico, requiring an even larger income differential to attract substantial immigration. In other words, large immigration is (not surprisingly) something that occurs in rich countries, and is not a panacea for the labor problems of relatively poor ones (like Russia.)

Russian efforts would be better devoted to keeping its high skill people from going west, to the US or Europe, than to attracting low skill people north or east to Russia.
 

bengalraider

DFI Technocrat
Ambassador
Joined
Oct 10, 2009
Messages
3,778
Likes
2,584
Country flag
part 3 of the five part series by joshua kucera

From: Joshua Kucera
Subject: Why Are Siberian Russians Drawn to China?
Posted Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2009, at 10:44 AM ET
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

BLAGOVESHCHENSK, Russia—I originally came to the Russian Far East with the idea that the Russian-Chinese border was roughly analogous to the U.S.-Mexican border: poor, darker-skinned people sneaking north across a river for better job opportunities, freaking out the white people.

Poor Chinese do cross over, and they do work for less than Russians. And some of the overheated immigration rhetoric you hear in the United States exists in Russia, too, about the "zheltaya ugroza," or "yellow peril." That paranoia is much more prevalent in Moscow than in the Russian Far East, however. Here, everyone seems to have their favorite example of how other Russians exaggerate the Chinese presence. There are reports in the Moscow press that half the population of Blagoveshchensk is Chinese or that there are dozens of Chinese villages in Russia that don't appear on any map. "I've heard that the streets in Blagoveshchensk are named after Chinese generals or that there are Chinese people on the city council here," Mikhail Kukharenko, the head of the Chinese-government-run Confucius Institute, told me.
In part because the government has placed tight restriction on Chinese visitors to Russia, there is little visible Chinese presence in Blagoveshchensk—and there's more here than anywhere else in Russia. There are a couple of so-called "Chinese markets," where Chinese vendors sell cheap clothes and electronics, but you can find these all over Russia and the former Eastern bloc. There are also a good number of Chinese restaurants catering to Russian tastes: It was here that I had stir-fried potatoes for the first time.

But you see very few Chinese people on the streets, other than a few tourists snapping photos of the statue of Lenin or of the reconstructed arch originally built for Czarevich Nicholas' visit through the Far East in 1891.

What is remarkable here, though, is the enthusiasm that Russian people—in contrast to the Russian government—display about China. While some poor Chinese citizens come to Russia for work, educated, middle-class Russians are increasingly going in the other direction. Among the group of young, English-speaking Russians I fell in with in Blagoveshchensk, nearly all of them worked in some capacity with China. Many of them had lived there. One, Sergey, was home from his job in Shanghai, and he raved about how much friendlier, more open, and optimistic Chinese people were compared with Russians.

One feature of the Russian-Chinese relationship seemed especially telling: Cross-border marriages are overwhelmingly between Chinese men and Russian women. Much of this has to do with demographics—Russia has a surplus of women, while China has too many men. But as one Russian woman told me, "Chinese men are kinder and more attentive to their wives. And they usually have more money."

In the international relations department of Amur State University in Blagoveshchensk, the number of students studying Chinese increases every year, and more Russian students now learn Chinese as their first foreign language than English. The department is closing its European studies track and shutting down German and French. Soon, it will offer only Chinese and English.

"China is the destiny of Siberia, our present and future depends in every respect on what happens in China," Victor Dyatlov, a professor at Irkutsk State University and a top authority on Russian-Chinese relations, told me. "The only direction we can move in is integration and cooperation between Russia and China. But we don't know what form that integration will take."

But this local integration with China doesn't mean much to the larger picture, Dyatlov said. "The future of Siberia and its people is defined not by the people here but in Moscow," he said. "What people in Siberia think isn't that important. Siberia is the national treasure, and the people here are just meant to help the government exploit these resources."

Indeed, many people complain that Moscow treats the Russian Far East like a cash cow to be exploited for export income to China and cares little about how people here live. In February 2009, Russia and China signed a 20-year, $25 billion oil deal, and by the end of that term China could be getting one-quarter of its imported oil from Russia and Central Asia. Most of that oil will come from eastern Siberia, through a pipeline whose original route veered dangerously close to famously pristine Lake Baikal, prompting protests from Siberians. Russia also recently started selling electricity to China from the Bureya Dam, on a tributary of the Amur, at a price cheaper than Russians pay for electricity in Blagoveshchensk. "We don't like it," said Svetlana Kosikhina, the dean of the international relations department at Amur State. "Electricity is expensive here, and if we sell it to China, it's going to be even more expensive."
Even locals admit to a significant amount of skepticism about China's intentions toward the Russian Far East. Kukhalenko—as director of the Confucius Institute here, he's an employee of the Chinese government—said he assumes that "a lot" of the Chinese students in Blagoveshchensk are spies, "especially the ones who are older and who speak good Russian already." There are also rumors of a secret museum in Heihe—shown only to Chinese tourists—that displays maps showing Chinese control over the Russian Far East.

"We're not afraid, but we're wary. We just don't understand what they're going to do. It's a system that could rise up at any moment and attack us," Kosikhina said. "We have a saying here: 'Pessimists study Chinese.


map showing places concerned with the article.


A reconstructed arch in Blagoveshchensk, Russia, originally built for Czarevich Nicholas' visit through the Russian Far East in 1891.


A Russian TV reporter interviews a Chinese photographer at a photo exhibition in Blagoveshchensk, Russia.


The "Green Corner" in Vladivostok, the city's open-air used-car market. The city had thrived on the trade in imported Japanese cars until the Russian government shut down the trade.
 

bengalraider

DFI Technocrat
Ambassador
Joined
Oct 10, 2009
Messages
3,778
Likes
2,584
Country flag
part four of the five part series by joshua kucera

From: Joshua Kucera
Subject: Vladivostok's Used-Car Dealers Are Mad as Hell
Posted Thursday, Dec. 31, 2009, at 10:05 AM ET
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

VLADIVOSTOK, Russia—The most remarkable thing about Vladivostok is how thoroughly Russian it is. It's 4,000 miles from Moscow, but only 600 miles from Tokyo and just a couple of hours' drive from both China and North Korea. Still, you'd be hard-pressed to find many signs of Asian-ness amid the concrete block apartment buildings, Soviet war memorials, and overwhelmingly white faces. My translator, a freelance tour guide, said her charges are often disappointed by how "un-Asian" Vladivostok looks.

Russia's firm control over this remote outpost has to be counted as a great achievement, first by the Russian Empire, which founded Vladivostok in 1859 and made it the terminus of the Trans-Siberian Railway, and then by the Soviets, who made the city a naval base, closed it off to foreigners, and gave it the distinctive look it has today: concrete high-rises perched on the lush, steep hills that overlook the Pacific Ocean.

But today, Vladivostok's identity as a Russian city is undergoing a transformation. The city represents Russia's purported desire to open up to Asia—Vladimir Putin has dubbed Vladivostok the "Gateway to the Pacific." And Moscow has promised to back up that rhetoric, choosing Vladivostok to host the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in 2012 and undertaking several ambitious new infrastructure projects, like business-class hotels and new bridges and roads, to help the city prepare for the event.

But in front of that "gateway" are some metaphorical barbed wire and guard dogs, as Moscow tries to figure out how to maintain its control over this strategic part of Russia in the face of a declining population and a rising China.

The European part of Russia can feel pretty far away. When Vladivostok's businesspeople and bureaucrats show up to work at 9 a.m., their colleagues in Moscow are sound asleep—it's 2 a.m. there—which makes it difficult to conduct business with the capital. Recently, President Dmitry Medvedev proposed a reduction in the number of time zones from 11 to three or four.

The government has tried other schemes to beef up ties between the Russian Far East and the rest of the country. One, designed to shore up the Russian population here, encourages ethnic Russians living in former Soviet republics, particularly in Central Asia, to move to strategically important but depopulated areas, most of which are in the Far East.

Another program tries to encourage people in the Far East to visit the capital by halving airfares on flights to Moscow. For whatever reason, the discounts are available only to people under 24 or over 60. Or, as Svetlana Kosikhina, the dean of the international relations department at Amur State University, put it, "The young, who don't have enough money to travel, and the old, who aren't healthy enough to travel."

Unfortunately, whatever effect these measures have had on winning over hearts and minds has been far outweighed by Moscow's attempts to shut down car imports from Japan.

It's not quite accurate to say that there is nothing Asian about Vladivostok—if you look carefully at the cars on the street, you will see that well over 95 percent of them have the steering wheel on the right-hand side, even though traffic, as in the rest of Russia, travels on the right side of the road. That's because the cars are from Japan, the fruit of Vladivostok's most dynamic industry: used-car sales.

Until the beginning of 2009, hundreds of thousands of cars were imported every year from Japan to Vladivostok, where they were sold on to buyers in other parts of Russia. This trade provided people in Vladivostok with a good living (boosters say 100,000 of the city's 600,000 residents were employed in some kind of car-related work) and with cheap, high-quality cars.

(I asked several drivers of right-hand-drive cars if they felt it was dangerous—passing, for example, would seem to become much more treacherous when you're on the right side of the car. But every single one of them claimed that the cars were perfectly safe. One person even argued that right-hand-drive cars were safer, because when you parallel parked at a curb, you got out at the curb rather than in traffic. Official government statistics tell a different story, however: Right-hand-drive cars are twice as likely to be in an accident.)

Nevertheless, the Russian government is cracking down in an attempt to bolster the Russian domestic auto industry. At the beginning of 2009, the government increased customs duties on imported cars, prompting protests so serious that the government flew in riot police from Moscow to break them up.

At the beginning of 2010, the government is planning to prohibit the importation of cars without Vehicle Identification Numbers. Cars produced for the Japanese market don't have them. The 2009 fee increases "hurt this business, but the new rules will kill it," said Alex, a car dealer at Vladivostok's Green Corner, the open-air car market on the outskirts of Vladivostok that got its name from the large amounts of money that change hands there.

One company that imports cars from Japan, VladTrek, has cut its work force from 200 to 30 over the last year, and it sells only about a tenth the cars it used to, Roman Sultanov, the company's vice general director, told me. He received me in his office, which is dominated by a huge schedule of car auctions across Japan. The company is now shifting gears to import parts for the cars already in Russia, he said, but that is a far less lucrative business.

In all my stops before Vladivostok, I had heard about the problems with the car import business; the stories were usually offered up as Exhibit A in the case for "Why Moscow Doesn't Care About the Far East." As on America's frontier, there is a bit of a libertarian streak here, and government interference has stirred up a lot of resentment. "We [in the Far East] like to be independent," Sultanov said. "We don't need help, but we don't want the government to interfere with our business."

The fallout over car imports has had a clear political impact. In stark contrast to my previous stops in Russia, where I often faced reticent interviewees and dark warnings about the KGB, in Vladivostok, people freely and frequently volunteered slanderous opinions of the Russian government.

I heard anti-government sentiment all over town, but understandably, it's most prominent at the Green Corner, where business was down so much that there were more dealers sunning their paunchy bellies in the warm September sun than attending to customers.

One dealer told me that Putin shut down the Japanese imports because he has stock in AvtoVAZ, Russia's main car manufacturer, and thus loses money from Japanese imports. "Putin says, 'Why do I have to care about the Russian Far East? Just one Lada factory has more voters than the whole Far East,' " another, Andrey, told me. A third, Dmitry, told me that the government is just trying to horn in on the action: "This business will always exist, because people want used cars. But the question is, who will control it? It has been a private business until now, but probably some government people are going to come and run it."

Sultanov said flatly, "I'm against Putin. He's not smart, he's like Hugo Chávez or Alexander Lukashenko or the president of some African banana republic. People in other Russian cities don't know anything; they just watch TV. We can go abroad and see real freedom."

And he said something I had already heard several times in Russia: "Even in Communist China, it's more free than here." He described how in China, new businesses are exempt from taxes for three years, and interest rates are a fraction of the Russia rate. "In China, it's getting easier to do business. Here, it's getting harder."

Joshua Kucera is a freelance writer based in Washington, D.C.

Article URL: Where Russia meets China. (4) - By Joshua Kucera - Slate Magazine


Copyright 2010 Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive Co. LLC


Russian sailors pose for photos with a Chinese tourist at a historic fortress in Vladivostok, Russia.


A Chinese tourist poses at a historic fortress in Vladivostok.


A bridge under construction in Vladivostok as part of the infrastructure improvements the Russian government is making in preparation for the city's hosting the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in 2012.
 

bengalraider

DFI Technocrat
Ambassador
Joined
Oct 10, 2009
Messages
3,778
Likes
2,584
Country flag
the final part of the 5 part series

China: Russia’s Land of Opportunity
Where Russia Meets China: The final part of a 5-part series in cooperation with Slate.

BY JOSHUA KUCERA | DECEMBER 30, 2009

China: Russia?s Land of Opportunity | Foreign Policy

SUIFENHE, China -- In 1989, the opening of the border between Russia and China raised Russian fears of a "yellow peril": millions of Chinese citizens flooding north into relatively unpopulated, but richly endowed, Siberia. Some contrarian publications even went so far as to suggest that Russia should just accept the inevitable and sell the whole territory to China.

Demographically, it makes sense that Chinese people would flock to Russia. Look at it in economic terms, though: China's economy is booming, and its prospects seem limitless. Meanwhile, Russia is highly dependent on uncertain oil and natural gas reserves. Professionals already make more money in China than they do in Russia, and as China's economy grows, blue-collar wages will likely outpace Russian pay. So, rather than Chinese people moving to Russia, isn't it more likely that Russians would move to China?

I asked this question of many Russians in the Far East, and I usually got the same answer: It's already happening. Thus far, the Russian migration to China seems to be only a trickle. But it's not hard to imagine that this is just the start.

The energy in Suifenhe, a relative backwater, is so much greater than in Vladivostok-a city three times the size-that taking the four-hour bus trip across the border is like switching from black-and-white to color. The road from Vladivostok becomes progressively worse the closer you get to the border, and the land is almost empty of people. As soon as you cross the border into China, there is a massive shopping mall with red cupolas, an apparent nod to Russian architecture, and an international-standard Holiday Inn.

The mall is part of what was supposed to be a joint Chinese-Russian free-trade zone, where people would be able to come to shop and tour visa-free. But all Russia has built on its side of the border is a church, which Chinese tourists photograph through the chain-link fence.

The day I arrived was one of the biggest celebrations in recent Chinese history: the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the People's Republic of China. Still, at the many construction projects around the city's center, workers were on the job until after dark. I thought back to Vladivostok, where a huge suspension bridge is under construction. It is supposed to be ready by 2012, when the city plays host to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. Ostensibly, this is a priority project overseen from Moscow, but when I mentioned to my translator that I hadn't seen anyone working on it, she smiled. "Yes," she said. "We notice that all the time."

Suifenhe's economy is driven by Russian shoppers on package tours, and the shops in the city center all have signs in the Cyrillic alphabet. One sporting goods store was called CSKA, after Moscow's legendary soccer team. I flipped through the T-shirts on sale at another boutique and saw shirts advertising the 2014 Sochi Olympics and United Russia, Vladimir Putin's political party.

But in addition to the many Russian tourists, there is a growing population of Russian expatriates living in Suifenhe. One, a journalist named Stanislav Bystritski, is a former reporter for a Vladivostok TV station. He moved here five years ago and produces two Russian-language shows on local Suifenhe TV, one oriented toward Russian tourists and one for Chinese people who want to learn about Russia and the Russian language.

As he showed me around town, an elderly Chinese man greeted us with a smile and said "Horosho," which means good in Russian. It seemed a strange thing to say, but Bystritski told me it was a common greeting by Chinese people here, because it sounds like it could be a Chinese word and is easy for Mandarin speakers to pronounce.

He echoed what I had heard in Blagoveshchensk and Vladivostok-Russians come to China because it is easier to get a good job and easier to do business. "So many Russian businessmen say it's easier to work here, there is so much less corruption and bureaucracy," he said.

Suifenhe's government once had plans to build a Russian quarter, reportedly with the expectation that up to 50,000 Russians might relocate here, though those plans appear to have been abandoned. Bystritski said that the rules on apartment ownership by foreigners have been loosened, so the government may have decided that there is no longer a need for a special Russian district. (We couldn't find out for sure. Bystritski set up a meeting with a member of Suifenhe's local government to talk about that and other issues involving Russian migrants. The official apparently assumed I would be Russian, and when Bystritski introduced me as an American, the official's eyes widened somewhat cartoonishly. He probably wasn't the best person, he said, and in the end I couldn't get anyone from the local government to talk to me.)

Still, I was able to meet several Russians who had moved here. Petr is building a small complex of apartment buildings for Russians. The Suifenhe government is so enthusiastic about the project that it is bulldozing the homes of the Chinese people who currently live in the area.

Viktor, a Russian engineer who moved here at the beginning of 2008, is working on a pollution-control technology that has excited more interest in China than it did in Russia. "The Chinese are more interested in innovative projects, so there are more opportunities here," he said. His wife, Natasha, works as a technician with Suifenhe's pioneering (and, to a civil libertarian, rather ominous) "electronic security" system, in which surveillance cameras all over town are controlled from a spotless control room in a glass-fronted building called the Suifenhe Cyberport. She says she wants her 4-year-old son to be raised "in Chinese traditions," and she is making sure he learns Chinese.

"People are so friendly here, I feel so comfortable," she said. "This is my new home."
 

Tshering22

Sikkimese Saber
Senior Member
Joined
Aug 20, 2010
Messages
4,729
Likes
3,815
Country flag
I don't know why some people are so stupid as to have separatist movements in Russia. I mean it might not be worlds No.1 economy but come on! This guy leader of SLA is a Russian himself. Slavic white by race, Orthodox by origin. Besides, since when did countries start drawing lines to people with slightly different appearances? Separatists and "violent" so-called revolutionaries deserve only one thing: a bullet between their eyes.

It is the good people of the government that share a concern like " no these are our people and we must make them understand" but given a chance, separatists like these and ours will kill these innocent people themselves for some silly selfish reason. They deserve no mercy or the freedom of press and should be thrown into 5 foot Iron box with holes and kept in there for a month to make them realize what it means to topple governments.

This freedom of media is becoming a disease for the countries and a weapon of separatists and terrorists.
 

Latest Replies

Global Defence

New threads

Articles

Top