Borysfen Intel

Russia-China: "The Crimea Is OURS", Siberia and the Far East Are YOURS

July 1, 2015
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Against the background of resonance events (primarily relating to Ukraine) around the so-called “Russian world” project, causing a mass euphoria in the Russian society, in fact, China's creating its own “Chinese world” in the East of the Russian Federation goes unnoticed. This is evidenced by the mass “Sinicization” of the Russian Eastern Siberia and the Far East by the uncontrolled migration of Chinese citizens in the region (according to the Russian-Chinese Agreement on visa-free entry into the border area included), and the rapid expansion of China's economic activity in the Russian lands.

As a result of these processes Russia today is not just losing control over its “traditional territories”. It is really threatened by the loss of territorial integrity, independence and national sovereignty. However, contrary to logic, it does not prevent the Chinese expansion in Eastern Siberia and the Far East. On the contrary, we may say that it fully contributes to the promotion of the Chinese interests. In addition, permission for access to Russian natural resources, markets and the economy as a whole (including Russia's maximum concessions, and often to the detriment) is turning into a direct transfer of Russian territories to China.

It all started with the return to China in 2008 of the islands on the River Amur near Khabarovsk (Tarabarov Island and half of the Great Ussuriysk Island, a total area of ​​174 thousand hectares). Later, in 2010, China leased from Russia 426.6 thousand hectares of border agricultural lands in the Jewish Autonomous Region and Khabarovsk Territory. In 2011, Russia leased China 1 million hectares of taiga for deforestation.

Returning to China of Tarabarov Island and a half of the Great Ussuriysk Island on the Amur River near Khabarovsk in 2008

At the end of 2014, this practice became legal under the Law “On the territories of the advancing social and economic development in the Russian Federation”. Based on this document, agreements have been achieved on leasing to China for 49 years of more than 300 thousand hectares of agricultural land in the Trans-Baikal region of Russia.

The Federal Law “On the territories of the advancing social and economic development in the Russian Federation”

At the first stage it is planned (as a “gift to Russians on the occasion of the Day of Russia, June 12, 2015” a preliminary agreement has been concluded) to transfer to China 115 thousand hectares of agricultural land, in particular: 10 thousand hectares in Nerchinsky-Zavod, Ulyotovsk and Shilkinsk districts; 35 thousand hectares in Sretensky district and 50 thousand hectares in Mogoytuysky district (the so-called Mogoytuysk industrial zone included). The term of realization of this stage is 2015-2018. If it is successful, from 2019 on, the Russian government will give China additional 200 thousand hectares.

At the first stage, it is planned to transfer to China 115 thousand hectares of agricultural land
in Nerchinsky-Zavod, Ulyotovsk, Shilkinsk, Sretensky and Mogoytuysky districts

All in all, Russia offers to China about 20 investment projects in the agricultural sector, each of which provides for development of 150-200 thousand hectares of land. As a result, very soon China may receive up to 4 million hectares of land in Eastern Siberia and the Russian Far East. The question is being considered of letting China use the largest Russian gold deposit “Sukhoy Log”, iron ore deposits “Udorongsk” and “Nizhneangarsk”, oilfield “Lodochnoye”.

The question is being considered of letting China use the largest Russian “Sukhoy Log” gold deposit

The Russian Federation's leadership is sure that the implementation of these plans will have a positive impact, as it will facilitate the attraction of significant Chinese investments, will help revive agriculture in the region, the state of which, to put it mildly, is neglected (for example, over the past 20 years, the area of ​​cultivated land in the Far East of the Russian Federation has decreased by 80 %).

However, in Russia the fact of the transfer of lands to China, and all the negative consequences of such a transfer are not mentioned. Indeed, on the one hand, this deal will give the new owners dizzying earnings, and on the other — it will result in the Russians' unjustified losses in the political, economic and security spheres.

Firstly, according to professional experts, the transfer of Russian lands for rent to the PRC does not guarantee significant revenues to the Russian Federation's budget, which could cut off the negative consequences of such a step (the cost of the leased land is 250 RUB/about 5 US dollars per hectare per year). Thus, according to Article 17 of the aforementioned Law of the Russian Federation, a special legal regime for entrepreneurial and other activity in the territory of advancing social and economic development of Russia provides for the application of preferential rental rates, as well as exemption from customs duties, land tax and property tax. That is, the Russian budget will get almost nothing.

Secondly, Russia is actually losing control over the territories transferred to China, as well as over the process of Chinese citizens' migration to these territories. In particular, the Federal Law of Russia of December 31, 2014, “On Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of the Russian Federation in Connection with the Adoption of the Federal Law “On the Territories of Advancing Social and Economic Development in the Russian Federation” eliminates the foreign citizens' need to obtain a work permit in such territories. It also cancels the quota at the invitation of such workers to Russia, which in fact ensures possible mass migration of Chinese citizens into the eastern regions of Russia.

Thirdly, similarly, Russia loses control over a considerable part of its border with China — more than 500 km between the let to China border areas of the Russian Federation and, the Chinese territory proper. This “window” gives the Chinese population great opportunities for mass penetration into Russia.

Fourthly, China will never return the rented from Russia lands. In such circumstances, and as a result of high rates of growth of the Chinese population, after 49 years the leased lands will be fully settled by immigrants from China. A majority of local residents will have been squeezed out or assimilated with the simultaneous loss of Russian identity. Nevertheless, China has no choice other than to create on its rented territories of its own (alternative to Russian) authorities, and in fact to their (those territories) integration into the Chinese state system. All this will pave the way for the formal inclusion of the above-mentioned lands into the PRC (for example, using an appropriate referendum) or giving these lands de facto its sovereignty.

Fifthly, using such a situation, the PRC will continue capturing the Eastern Siberia and the Far East, consistently cutting off new territories from Russia. Development of the so-called “northern territories” is a geopolitical goal of China, which the Chinese leadership, in fact, does not hide. The potential and the driving force of this, so to speak, expansion is secured by the demographic situation in the border provinces of China and Russia, where there live more than 40 million people (according to other sources — about 150 million people) who need new resources and territory. The Chinese are far superior to the number of eastern Russia's population (no more than 6-7 million people with an average population density of 1.2 people per 1 square kilometer).

Sixthly, this expansion will be accompanied by conflicts with the local population, perhaps even armed ones, which could escalate into a military confrontation between Russia and China. Despite the scale of spaces of Siberia and the Russian Far East, really the most suitable for living and farming is a relatively narrow strip of land along the borders of the Russian Federation, Mongolia and China, as well as the coastal area of ​​the Primorsky and Khabarovsk Krais. And such an uncontrolled increase in population in the above-mentioned areas can result in a confrontation over access to natural resources and agricultural land, which will also provoke ethnic and religious hostility.

Russia will not be able to stop the expansion of China, by using its armed forces included. Despite Putin's regime's considerable military expenditure, the Chinese military potential today is significantly superior to the Russian one in the first place, by the number of personnel and virtually inexhaustible mobilization resources. Moreover, the bulk of the Russian Armed Forces is located on the western strategic direction within the framework of the confrontation between the Russian Federation and the USA and NATO.

That's why China openly demonstrates its military force near the borders of Russia, including large-scale trainings, exercising throwing of the troops over long distances — for 2-4 thousand kilometers (almost to the Urals). Taking into consideration the Chinese leadership's positions in achieving its goals, as well as absence of constraints on the number of human land economic losses, China may decide on the armed conflict with Russia in case there suddenly appears a good reason for it.

Does Putin's environment realize this? Of course, it does. But at the same time it continues surrender Russia's interests in favor of the PRC. What explains such a position of the Russian leadership, which actually, “has started the process” of separating from Russia of its main resource base, — its eastern regions? In this situation, the answer to this question may be one and only: the hopeless situation of Putin's regime after the resumption of its confrontation with the West, which began with the Russian aggression against Ukraine.

The USA and EU's political and economic sanctions have significantly complicated financial and economic problems of Russia, which are sure to result in the socio-economic as well as social-political crisis. Soon, it will actually undermine the position of the regime of V. Putin and will create a real threat to his power.

But the Russian government is forced to make concessions to the PRC in exchange for supporting the Russian Federation in its confrontation with the West on the Ukrainian issue. The transfer (read — criminal sale) to China of Russian eastern territories is nothing else but that concession. Thus, the welfare, safety of the Russians, and in the end, the future of Russia are being deliberately sacrificed to Putin's personal ambitions and his maniacal ideas to revive the “Russian world”.

China cannot help using all this for its own purposes. Therefore, it just demonstrates its partner attitude to Russia, but in fact, — is defending and realizing exclusively its own interests, which do not coincide with Russian ones, and in most cases are directly opposite.

So in the nearest future, we will be able to observe in Russia proper “the Crimean scenario” in China's performance, which, for example, may declare the rights of the majority of Chinese residents of the Far East region. Well, with a certain Kremlin's “aid” it could happen even earlier. As they say now, “The Crimea is ours” and Siberia and the Far East are YOURS.

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