Staunton, February 8 – A Chinese business delegation visiting Ingushetia told Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, the head of that North Caucasus republic, that Chinese firms are “interested” in making investments there, a step that might help the North Caucasus to overcome its economic problems but also one that could give the region greater freedom of action relative to Moscow.
Yevkurov told the delegation that “last year [he and his team] had participated in an investment forum in China where an agreement on economic cooperation between the Republic of Ingushetia and the KARAT International Investment Consulting Corporation of Beijing had been signed” (stavropolye.tv/sfdnews/view/78396?sphrase_id=1981456).
Wan Li, KARAT’s vice president, responded by saying that Ingushetia’s participation in the Beijing forum had generated “a lively interest” in the region among Chinese investors. Many of them want to come to the republic, and he suggested that Ingushetia should host an investment forum of its own.
Chinese investments in Siberia, the Russian Far East, and in some larger Russian cities have sparked concerns among Russians about the appearance of Chinese managers and workers there and also about the geopolitical consequences of Chinese investment on the territorial integrity of the Russian Federation.
The initial Moscow reaction to China’s entrance into the North Caucasus has been positive with commentators viewing it as something that will help Moscow solve its problems there (polit.ru/article/2015/02/08/top9/). But it is quite likely that if and when Chinese involvement in the North Caucasus increases, at least some Russians will worried.
On the one hand, such investment will give China even greater leverage in Moscow given how much the hard-pressed Russian authorities are likely to need it. And on the other, it will give the North Caucasians leverage against Moscow both by providing them with an alternative source of money and by giving them great opportunities to act on the international scene.