Friday, May 31, 2024

Chinese Plans to Develop Mines in Moscow Oblast Likely to Contaminate Environment and Spark Russian Protests

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 27 – China has been interested in developing mines and mineral processing plans in Moscow Oblast since the 1950s, but Soviet and then Russian fears that such activities will contaminate the environment and spark the kind of ecological protests found elsewhere in the country have blocked Chinese efforts.

            Now, however, given the Kremlin’s “turn to the east,” Moscow Oblast with the blessing of the Kremlin is opening up Moscow Oblast’s natural resources reserves to Chinese exploitation, something that will lead to environmental degradation and likely spark protests like those in Shiyes and elsewhere.

            Oblast officials are enthusiastic about the economic benefits they will reap from such Chinese involvement, even suggesting that their region is rapidly becoming “the forgotten klondike” in Moscow’s cooperation with China (

            But this program may backfire and mean that environmental protests are likely to break out in the Russian capital, a place that has largely avoided them by placing Russia’s most ecologically dangerous projects far away from the center. And thse may become anti-Chinese as well, especially given that regional officials had opposed such development earlier.

            That is especially likely given the anything but positive record of Chinese involvement in the exploitation of Russia’s natural resources east of the Urals where the behavior of Chinese investors and operators has infuriated the local population and contributed to the rise of regionalist movements that have been energized by anti-Chinese feelings.


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