Friday, February 28, 2014

Russian Far East and Chinese Immigration : Impacts

                                This week i discusses on the socio-economic impact of Chinese immigration to the border provinces of Russian Far East.I would like to focus on the Far Eastern province of  'Primorskiy Kray' which includes the port city of Vladivostok.According to a study conducted by the Carnegie endowment for international peace, a typical Chinese migrant to this part of  Russia is "poor, presevering, modest, hungry for earnings of any size, and brutally exploited by his own countrymen with the silent approval of the Russians." According to Visa and Registration Department (OVIR) of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of  Russia for Primorskiy Kray, the total number of Chinese migrants incresed from 35,000 in 1995 to 80,000 by 2000. At the same time Chinese government calculates that the Chinese diaspora of former Soviet Union comes only 1 % of the  world Chinese diaspora.Most of the Chinese immigrants to Russia's Primoskiy Kray belongs to three provinces of the Chinese North East : Heilongjiang, Jilian, and Liaoning.More than half of the Chinese immigrants are high school or college educated and they look for quick money from their Russian adventure. Various studies show that these young Chinese migrants are not looking to settle in Russia but use it as a transit point to save money and move further to more advanced countries of the West.Or,in other words very few Chinese migrants are really settling in Russia in a permanent basis.Chinese migrants to Russia engage in agriculture, construction and trade.A good number of Chinese entered in Russia  on a tourist visa and end up as small scale trders or business men.

                             Chinese goods have a great say over the economy of the Russian Far East.The disintegration of Soviet Union economically broken this part of Russia. Russia' s huge geographical size, Moscow's negligience towards Russian Far East and Russia's poor financial condition exacrbated this problem.In reality Chinese saved the Russian Far East from that desperate condition.Even now both Chinese consumer goods and agricultural goods controls the Russian Far Eastern market.An average Russian could not afford the goods which are imported from either United States or Europe.At the same time Chinese goods are considered as cheap in quality but less expensive.The bargaining system of the Chinese markets are also attracting the cash- strapped Russians.Russian businessmen also benefitted through appointing Chinese labourers and conducting 'shuttle trade' with the Chinese markets.But various studies show that local Russians are not happy with Chinese presence but their economic difficulties force them to accomoodate their southern neighbour.Russians also percieve that Chinese and Chinese government are beneficial out of trade between Russians and Chinese.They think that Chinese benefited out of Russian raw materials such as timber and iron and exchange Russia with the cheap Chinese consumer goods (it is observed that China is following the same strategy in Africa too).

                          The biggest fear of the local Russians are that the eventual Chinese occupation of  Primoskiy Kray and other parts of the Russian Far East.The huge population mismatch between Russian side and Chinese side is justifying this doubt. Russians find that 2.2 million Slavs of  Kray is not a match for the 38 million people of the Heilongjiang province across the frontier.As Vice Chancellor of the Far Eastern Government Service Academy rightly observes that : "the population of Khasan rayon of Primorskiy Kray is 65,000, while 2 million people in North Korea and 20 million in China live on the territory of equalk size across the border from Khasan". China's historical claim over this region also exaceberates the Russian doubt but still Russia confident enough of its military power.But Russians also find that the near future is really uncertain.Russians even fears that Chinese may simply annex this part  of Russia without even a single shot thanks to China's hugh population.So majority of local Russians want to strictly regulate the Chinese inroads into their territory. But at the same time local Russians in general appreciate the positive aspects of the Chinese migration such as cheap labour and less expensive Chinese consumer goods.Russians also respect Chinese work ethics but socially considered Chinese as distant aliens who are not willing to assimilate but have a tendency to impose their culture over others.

                            In general Chinese immigration to Russia cannot perceive as 'immigration' but only a 'migration'.In general Chinese do not want to settle in Russia but want to make quick money at the expense of Russians.In other side Russian Far East is still not completely recovered from the disintegration of the Soviet Union.Russian Far East badly needs Chinese support for its survival.The lack of population in this part of Russian Federation also increases the vulnerability of Russians.Right now it is very difficult to predict the future of this part of the world but it is very difficult to believe that Russia will simply abandon this part of its territory without any resistance.


1) Alexseev, Mikhail A (2001), "Socioeconomic and Security Implications of Chinese Migration in the Russian Far East," Post - Soviet geography and economics, 42 (2) : 122-141.

2) Kontorovich, Vladimir (2000), "Can Russia Resettle the Far East ?" Post-Communist Economies, 12 (3) : 365 - 384.

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