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Russia Fears China's Growing Influence in Siberia and the Far East

By Joao Peixe | Thu, 09 August 2012 21:49 | 3

Russia and China have strong diplomatic and trade relations, often supporting each other in the UN, yet there is a source of tension between the two nations which has been growing and looks as though it may be about to peak; the matter of Chinese influence in Russia’s Far East.

Just days after Russia announced that it was sending two new nuclear submarines to join its Pacific Fleet, the Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has released a warning to China regarding its influence in the region.  He stated that it is “important not to allow negative manifestations, including the formation of enclaves made up of foreign citizens,” and that Russian must defend its lands against “excessive expansion by bordering states.”

These strong comments confirm suspicions that the Kremlin fears that the steady influx of Chinese migrants to into the sparsely populated region of Siberia and the Far East could prove a threat to Russia’s control in the area.

The Russian government now includes a Ministry of the Far East who run certain programs that are designed to reinforce the Russian speaking population, and has already relocated 400 families from other parts of the former Soviet Union.

Putin wants minorities to live under the umbrella of Russian culture, speak the Russian language, learn the Russian history, and read Russian literature.

By. Joao Peixe of Oilprice.com

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  • Big Ben on August 15 2012 said:
    Moscow's difficulty with the RFE region goes back at least a century. The fundamental reason comes down to Treaty of Aigun and the Treaty of Peking during the late 19th century. Russia is inherently a European country. It is Europe that drives its population, culture and economic activities. The RFE seems like an artificial part of Russia - really no man’s land. With Russia’s weakening demographic profile, there is virtually no chance it can develop the far east in any meaningful way. Logically, Russia should sell the region back to China or to Japan, Korea, the US or whoever the highest bidder. Say for about $2 trillion cash, that would be equal to about 20x the current annual value of RFE's GDP based on IMF figure. Assuming RFE can sustain an annual GDP growth rate of 8% for 20 years and 5% thereafter (a highly unlikely assumption as this would more than double the national average), that would still take almost 50 years for the GDP of RFE to reach the $2 trillion mark. Russia took control of the RFE around the late 19th century, such a price tag would equate to one hack of a return. Most of all, by getting rid of an incurable cancer, this would allow its resources to focus on dominating its natural periphery areas such as the Caucasus and CEE.
  • Philip Andrews on August 11 2012 said:
    First of all noone wants to popolate Siberia. Apart from a very narrow habitable zone stretchinh from the Altai mountains to Vladivostok where under the SU about 20 milluion Russians lived, the rest is virtually unihabitable to anyone other than indigenous peoples.

    The permafrost is melting in the North and NE but this is creating huge stagmant water areas with 'cities' full of mosquitos. Also huge vreleases of unhealthy gases.

    Anyone who wants to 'develop' Siberia has to have the technology to do it. As the climate changes so does the tchnology required.

    The migrations are happening in the Russian Far East around Vladivostok esp. and within about 500 miles of the Mongolian/Chinese border, to about the northern tip of Lake Baikal. Siberia proper begins asbout 500 miles north of that border.

    Its about 3000 miles from the Pacific to the Urals so 500 x 3000 is approx. the habitable land arrea. Considering that between the Urals, the Arctic and the Pacific Ocean you could fit about 4 Continebntal US land masses into that area, its an unimaginably huge chunk of territory.

    I would imagine the Chinese have therir eyes on it for AFTER they've resolved the Taiwan issue in their favour... So say about two generations vtime.

    In the meantime Putin has to find a way of populating that habitable area with 'Eurasians'. He and his succesors have to find a way to 'encourage' or 'persuade' enough people to settle in that place to offset the Chinese presence. And to prepare to defend if necessary. Reverting to the old Soviet Komsomol/Pioneer ethos is quite likrely, once he has Europe within his Eurasian Homeland. That and increasing the Russian pop by any means possible (incl. Stalinist)to counter China will be the eventual priorities for any Russian President in 2 gens time...
  • RICH MILLS on August 11 2012 said:
    China has the population and wealth to populate Siberia and Russia does not. Look at the history of migrations it's only a matter of time.

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