Staunton, April 7 – Many Russian commentators have reacted with anger to Moscow’s agreement to allow China to open more businesses in the Russian Far East, a development they say will be accompanied by an influx of Chinese workers and Chinese influence over that sparsely populated Russian region (grani.ru/Politics/Russia/m.250310.html).
Others are enraged that Beijing appears to have decided to shift its worst polluters from Chinese territory to Russian lands, a development that will exacerbate environmental problems in the region from Lake Baikal to the Pacific (mk.ru/economics/2016/04/06/kitay-zakhotel-perenesti-gryaznoe-proizvodstvo-na-dalniy-vostok-rossii.html).
But despite these concerns – and they are likely to grow first in the Russian Far East itself and then among Russian environmentalists more generally – Moscow is going ahead with a program that Moscow analyst Leonid Radzikhovsky says is “the hybrid surrender of the Far East to the Chinese” (ng.ru/blogs/leorad/o-gibridnoy-sdache-dalnego-vostoka-kitaytsam.php).
He suggests that the brief and dry reports that Moscow has agreed to allow some Chinese plants to relocate in the Russian Far East conceal more than they reveal. In fact, this is no small thing. Instead, Radzikhovsky argues, China will quickly come to dominate the economy and more of the Far East.
On the one hand, the economy of that Russian region is so small that any introduction of outside players will have a disproportionate set of consequences. And on the other, “where there are enterprises, there will be infrastructure, and where there is a labor force … Chinese workers in large numbers will become simply INEVITABLE.”
The result, he suggests, will follow the formula: “economics plus demography equals a province of the Chinese Peoples Republic, with ethnic Russian enclaves.” The flag, shield and hymn will remain Russian, but these will be the symbols of “rollback” rather than of the defense of national territory and national interest.
Chinese business has an additional advantage in this situation, the Moscow commentator says. Its Russian competitors are opposed by the Russian state, but the Russian state in deference to the Chinese state gives Chinese businesses advantages that Russian businesses can only dream of. Consequently, this “hybrid” surrender will be faster than many imagine.
“And so,” Radzikhovsky says, “Chinese DOMINANCE in the economy of the Far East is GUARANTEED” by the economic and demographic advantages of China in the region and “by the POLICY of the Russian state” toward China and its economic and political interests. Clearly, he says, the Kremlin “’needs China. It doesn’t need the [Russian] Far East.”
Russians can thus day “adieu” to that region which is being surrendered in a “hybrid” fashion to China with “rollback and taxes” leading directly to “the Chinese colonization of the Far East,” a colonization that works as do Moscow’s other hybrid operations for the Kremlin but not for the Russian people.
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