Tuesday, October 13, 2015

China to Extend Its Transportation Network into Russian Far East

Paul Goble

            Staunton, October 13 – Chinese officials have announced plans to extend their transportation network into the Russian Far East, something they say is part of the Eurasian Economic Union but that many Russians are likely to view as the latest example of Chinese neo-colonialism on Russian lands.

            Officials from China’s Heilongjiang province outlined their plans at a meeting of the second Russian-Chinese Expo in Harbin.  Initially, it will involve the construction of three bridges from China to Russia, a high-speed rail line between Harbin and Vladivostok, and the integration of the Chinese and Russian roads (gudok.ru/news/infrastructure/?ID=1310980).

            Eventually, Chinese officials said yesterday that this “international transportation net” would be connected with Korean and Japanese ports and also with Mongolia networks. This will “make possible the development both of the northeast of the Chinese Peoples Republic and also the Russian Far East.

            This will clearly be a Chinese project rather than a joint one. China is currently building more kilometers of rail lines every three days than Russia is building in a year, and the population of Heilongjiang province is more than twice that of all of the Russian Federation east of the Urals.

            Coming on the heels of Moscow’s agreement to give Chinese firms special rights in the region and efforts by Russian regions to lease enormous territories to China on a long-term basis, this latest Chinese plan will certainly reorient much of the Russian Far East toward China and spark new worries among some Russians about the future of that area.

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