Economic clout or territorial claim? China’s growing presence in Russia raises eyebrow

Economic clout or territorial claim? China’s growing presence in Russia raises eyebrow


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While Beijing and Moscow have displayed a facade of an “unlimited partnership” on the global stage, tensions are brewing in the far-eastern corner of Russia, Primorsky Krai, as it attracts a significant influx of Chinese farmers. These farmers, benefiting from their economic prowess, are outpacing local competitors, posing a subtle challenge to local Russian dominance.This region, historically part of the Qing dynasty until 1860, has recently seen a push from Beijing, evident in the inclusion of Haishenwai (the Chinese name for Vladivostok, the region’s administrative center) and seven other locations in official Chinese maps, a Newsweek report said.
This development aligns with Chinese Leader Xi Jinping‘s broader territorial ambitions, mirroring Russian President Vladimir Putin‘s claims over Ukraine. As China eyes territories like Taiwan and most of the South China Sea, its growing economic influence in Russia’s backyard raises strategic concerns. The increasing presence of Chinese agricultural ventures in Primorsky Krai, driven partly by economic shifts in China’s northeast, has sparked fears of the “Yellow Peril” – a historical anxiety over Chinese dominance in the sparsely populated Russian Far East.
Economically, this Chinese incursion has mixed effects; a study in the American Journal of Economics and Sociology highlighted both benefits and drawbacks for local Russian farmers, noting shifts in crop yields, land prices, and labor dynamics. Despite Western sanctions and the financial isolation over its invasion of Ukraine, Russia finds its economy propped up by trade with China. This economic interdependence has made Russia increasingly reliant on the yuan, with three-quarters of its trade turnover with China settled in the Chinese currency.
“Russia’s reliance on the yuan leaves “junior partner” Putin in a tight spot should any diplomatic tensions or trade disputes arise between the two countries—and more exposed to economic challenges facing the world’s second-largest economy. Moscow is also vulnerable to third-party pressure via its dependency on Beijing. For example, Russian companies with business interests in China reported payment bottlenecks after Washington introduced secondary sanctions targeting banks that facilitate the transfer of banned goods into Russia,” the Newsweek report said.
The strategic and economic dynamics suggest a complex interplay of mutual benefit and dependency, with Russia’s sovereignty and economic stability hanging in the balance amid its pivot towards China.



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