Staunton, October 8 – Because China has so many people and Siberia and the Russian Far East have so few, many Russians are convinced that they are threatened by a wave of Chinese immigrants whose presence will threaten Russian control and support imposing strict limits on the number of Chinese who can enter Russia for any length of time.
But those fears, Eurasianet journalist Alena Lapteva says, are not justified by the facts. While Chinese do come to Russia as tourists in large numbers, most leave after a short time, and over the last decade only 20,000 Chinese have migrated to Russia, and only 1,000 have become Russian citizens (russian.eurasianet.org/насколько-велика-китайская-миграция-в-россию).
The statistics she has assembled throw cold water on the more hyperbolic claims about the influx of ethnic Chinese into Russia and their takeover of industries and agriculture in the Far East and Siberia. Among the many numbers she gives, each carefully sourced, are the following:
· “Every tenth foreigner arriving in Russia is a citizen of China,” and during the first six months of this year, they numbered 863,000, up by 30 percent from the same period a year earlier.
· Seventy-two percent of these Chinese were tourists who stayed for less than 30 days. Of the others, 71,300 came to work and 36,000 to study, figures that are 13.1 percent and 18.4 percent higher respectively than in the first half of 2018.
· The 2010 Russian census counted 28,300 Chinese in the population, “about 0.02 percent” of the total, a figure that was significantly lower than the 34,600 who were counted in the 2002 enumeration.
· “On the whole, the number of Chinese citizens coming to the Russian Federation for lengthy periods isn’t large. Migration growth [from this source] in 2018 was only 477 people.” In 2017, it was 637; and in 2015 and 1026, it was 778 and 810 respectively.
· From 2008 to 2014, the number of Chinese citizens in Russia grew by 16,300, and between 2017 and 2019, it rose by 4700.
· Between 2017 and the middle of 2019, only 196 Chinese acquired Russian citizenship.
· Nearly 6,000 businesses in which Chinese formed part of the ownership team were registered in Russia in February 2018; but most were small: those with incomes of 100,000 rubles (1600 US dollars) formed only 1616. And almost all had significant Russian participation.
· Over the last seven years, “the number of citizens of China studying in Russian higher educational institutions has almost doubled to 30,000. Chinese students are choosing Rusisan universities because they are less expensive than European or American ones and because they want to learn Russian.