Russia is, as well known, a big country. It is still big even after the USSR collapse. As for its population, it is not the biggest in the world. In this field, China occupies the leading position. Moreover, it has the longest border wit Russia. So, the Chinese actively master Russian territory, legally and illegally.
Why am I saying all this? I explain you, why. Recently, Russian Far East fate became the subject of concern of such a respected edition like Wall Street Journal. It easily found a solution of the complicated problem of Chinese migration to Russia. I am surprised, why Russian authorities have not came yet to this decision! According to the Wall Street Journal, Moscow should do with the Far East what Great Britain has done with Hong Kong. In other words, Russia should cede a part of its Far East to China.
The essence of the WSJ argumentation could be expressed in several items. First, today’s Chinese migration to the north is a natural factor. In southern Amur River bank, there is 50 times bigger density of population, than in the northern one. On Russian side, there is a big amount of fertile lands, which are not tilled. Second, in globalisation conditions, Russia could keep the Far East only, if it fully realises the region economical potential, while this is possible with Chinese assistance only. If Russia closes from its southern neighbour, Beijing certainly will put pressure upon Moscow and will most likely win a victory. Third, if Russia opened its Far-Eastern frontiers for China, it would become the basis of the region prosperity. Khabarovsk and Seaside Regions would become more attractive for Russians from other regions and from CIS countries. With developed infrastructure, investments would be made into the region economy. Mastering of rich natural recourses would bring profits into the country budget. While the Chinese would become a guarantor of Russian laws stability in the Far East. This is the role the Chinese play in many other countries, while being one of the most disciplined nations. Though, to reach this prosperity, Russia must, according to WSJ, to overcome xenophobia which rains in its society.
Nobody would dispute against the fact that the Far East (as well as any other Russian region) needs investments. And co-operation with China could be very fruitful in this sphere. Though, this issue should be considered from another view. The question is that at the moment, China is economically more powerful, than Russia. So, if Russia follows the WSJ prescription, there will be all conditions (especially taking into account massive Chinese migration to Russia) for the Far East seizure from Russia. If even it will not happen de jure, it will certainly happen de facto.
Moreover, other countries’ example is not fully correct. The US is separated from China with a natural obstacle – with ocean. This however did not hindered Chinese goods from penetrating to US market. Probably everybody remembers that comical episode a month ago, when President Bush, who made a speech, calling to support of US firms, stood against the background of some boxes with inscription “Made in China.” So, if the US cannot resist to Chinese intrusion, what could Russia do?
The question is not about xenophobia. The question is about sovereignty, which has not been abolished yet. And if the Far East belong to Russia, it must belong to Russia. There could be enough people, including that ones in China, who are not satisfied with 50-year-old agreements. While there are enough people in Mexico, who still remember to whom Texas and California belonged in the 19th century.
These issues are to complicated and specific to be solved with universal prescriptions. Too many factors must be taken into account. Both Russia and China have many troubles, different troubles. And they do not need to have one more in their relations, like “big unassimilated territory – big population.”
And one more remark. It is probably not by chance that articles like that one in the Wall Street Journal (and not only in this edition) started to appear on the threshold of a big Far-Eastern tour of US Secretary of State Colin Powell. February 23, he is arriving in China…
Vasily Bubnov PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Vera Solovieva
Read the original in Russian: http://world.pravda.ru/world/2003/5/15/42/7405_RussiaChina.html
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