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Author`s name Ольга Савка

Russian-Chinese gambit: Imminent menace

Nowadays, should you mention China, everybody is likely to point out its impressive economic growth and its ambitions deserving of the world's superpower

Some 15 years ago people would associate China with totalitarianism, communism, and the Tiananmen Square protests. Nowadays, should you mention China, everybody is likely to point out its impressive economic growth and its ambitions deserving of the world's superpower.

China and the Chinese are taking on the rest of the world. China's actions in the field of world politics clearly indicate that China is ready to make claims to dominance over the whole hemisphere at the very least.

However, the world's last communist empire faces manifest development problems including but not limited to a lack of practically all the mineral resources and overpopulation in some parts of the country. China's seemingly insatiable economy (GDP annual growth ranges from 9% to 10%) already devours 40% of all cement and more than 30% of total world's oil consumption. Steel consumption doubled in China over the last few years. But China's own raw materials are scarce. With its 21% of the global population, China produces only 1.8% of the world's crude output. 30% of China's proven oil reserves are located in Xinjiang province whose Moslem population is much larger in number than that of the ethnic Chinese. It is rather doubtful Beijing will be able to maintain a tight grip on political developments in the province in the long run. So far no evidence has been provided to back the official reports about supposedly huge reserves of oil discovered in the north of the country. In any case, developing oil fields will take years to complete. Meanwhile, the Chinese authorities are aware that large-scale import of raw materials may be disrupted one of these days. Should the international tension increase, U.S. Navy could easily blockade the sea routes to China.

Besides, Chinese scientists estimate that environmental conditions will change for the worse in China by 2030. Water is expected to be in short supply, annual demand for 20 billion cubic meters of water would not be met. The yield on main crops production should drop by 10% while China's population is expected to total 1.6 billion people by 2030. In light of the above, food shortages anticipated on a nationwide level.

It is no wonder the military and political leadership of China eye the northern territories which are still owned by Russia. South Siberia and Russian Far East are unique territorial formations. Experts in geopolitics all over the world stress the fact that the regions are extremely rich in mineral resources while being virtually under-populated and underdeveloped. Their border defenses leave much to be desired.

China has already launched a covert Sinicization program targeting Russia's neighboring areas. Speaking to Moskovski Komsomolets, former governor of the Amur region Vladimir Polevanov said that in the last 10 years the Chinese had been using legal and illegal ways for settling down in the region which stretches from the Russian Far East up to the city of Ulan-Ude. According to him, the Chinese quickly buy property using local middlemen. These days the Chinese control about 70% of all local markets. Now they hold sway over the Russian Far East's timber industry save for a few companies. “They need timber more than anything else,” said Mr. Polevanov.

The Chinese use mixed marriages and corrupt local authorities for legalization purposes in Russia. The Chinese intelligence may be involved in the process. Experts believe that the Chinese are now the forth largest ethnic group in the Russian Federation, after the Russians, Tartars, and Ukrainians. The number of the Chinese immigrants is expected to rise following the accession of Russia to the World Trade Organization. This is a creeping expansion that is likely to bring about a new Kosovo situation Russia will have to face sooner or later.

China has plenty of plausible excuses to launch a military invasion. Notwithstanding the transfer of hundreds of hectares of land to China, South Siberia still has many areas regarded by the Chinese as “disputed.” Besides, China may stand up for their citizens should  Russian authorities clamp down on illegal immigration. However, China will not go on the offensive in the near future. Not until it occupies Taiwan. Going to war against a nuclear power does not seem to be the best option anyway.

Pravda ru. took possession of one of the problem solution plans devised by the Union of Military Sinologists of Russia. The document suggests that smaller sacrifices should be made in order to achieve greater goals.

The military sinologists' plan is based on their own pessimistic forecast for future developments provided that Russia's policy toward China does not change for the next 5-10 years. According to their estimates, China regards Siberia a strategic source of mineral materials in the case of a naval blockade imposed by the U.S. on the Chinese ports.

The experts believe that the blockade should prompt China to act in accordance with the bilateral treaty on good neighborly relations dated July 16, 2001, providing for “strategic partnership and interaction with Russia” in the field of military cooperation. China should secure its strategic borders in the north by moving itsground troops into the Maritime Region, Amur Region, Outer Mongolia and Western Turkestan. Then the Chinese should move in its labor force to ensure production and supply routes of natural resources bound for processing facilities in mainland China. In other words, the developments should create a situation of de facto occupation of a significant and most promising part of Russia.

Russia can stop the trend by taking a preemptive action, according to military sinologists. They believe that the occupation of Siberia can be averted if Russia deliberately form an urgent bloc with China and some members of the world's financial elite.

“A free economic zone” similar to the Hong Kong – Chang Jiang zone should be created to carry out such a controversial option, according to the authors of the plan. They believe the Jewish Autonomous Region should be an ideal place for implementing an offshore project of behemoth proportions. The area is linked to cheap waterways with good market potential. It is a link to transportation routes connecting the Amur, Ussuri, and Sungari (out of Harbin) and the Trans-Siberian Railroad (access to Europe). China's inner  waterways and overland transportation routes will become a priority once the U.S. declares a naval blockade.

The sinologists believe that China will have to take into account the interests of those international business heavyweights which intended to invest in that huge project should China accept the rules of the game called “free economic zone.” Thus the world capital whose attitude to Russia and China has always been traditionally negative, will make a third force to watch closely the rules of the game.

Should it prove a success, the above plan will undoubtedly result in the looting of territories designated for the offshore project. Still, the authors of the plan are confident that financial losses for Russia could be hardly compared to the aftermath of a potential stealing of Russia's natural resources.

In some 5 years the above concept will not probably look as crazy as it does now. Especially if the Russian leadership continues to disregard the development of territories bordering on China.