Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Chinese Analysts Say Sakha Wants Independence but Russia Can Block that At Least for Now

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 25 – In advance of a Yakutsk conference between Sakha and Chinese officials intended to boost trade between the two, Chinese analysts say that in Sakha, the desire for independence is widespread but that Russia will never allow that given the importance of the republic to Moscow’s economic and geopolitical goals.

            What is striking, Moscow analyst Ivan Dalny says, is this: this Chinese “propaganda about ‘the independence of Yakutia [Sakha] completely repeats analogous declarations of our Western opponents, including the Ukrainian (

            “The difference is only that the Chinese, in solving their own tasks, work on their domestic audience, while the West and its Ukrainian agents work on the Russian, including directly on the Yakut in a language of international communication, which depending on circumstances is either Russian or English,” the analyst continues.

            On the basis of articles which have appeared over the last several weeks on the Chinese blog platform, Dalny draws three fundamental conclusions about Chinese intentions, all of which the Russian analyst says are problematic or simply wrong and reflect the tendency of Chinese bloggers to substitute what they wish to believe for what is:

            First, they indicate that the Chinese believe that Sakha is “the second largest (after China itself) territory in the world populated by representatives of ‘the yellow race … and is already linked to China by close historical ties.”

            Second, Sakha is “extraordinarily rich in useful minerals but the severe natural conditions and extremely difficult economic situation is forcing people to massively leave this region and in the foreseeable future threatens its complete depopulation” unless perhaps Chinese people move in.

            And third, these articles argue that “Chinese-Sakha relations must be developed as broadly as possible because besides the advantages to both of such cooperation, with time this will give Sakha a certain independence,” something it can’t possibly achieve on its own.

            One of these articles says that “in recent years, the military power and economic situation of Russia has declined. The exit of Sakha from under the control of Russia not only would inflict a shock to its national power but have an impact on its international reputation. Therefore the dream about the independence of Sakha will remain a fantasy.”

            Despite that conclusion, Dalny says, the Chinese analysts treat as an established fact that Sakha’s people and even its political leadership are seeking independence now and consider that the most important part of their agenda. But he argues that this is not true and that the Chinese are only deceiving themselves.

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