Staunton, July 4 – Moscow’s readiness to allow more Chinese firms to locate in Siberia and the Russian Far East and to allow more Chinese to come to Russia to operate them, together with some inflammatory coverage in the Moscow media, has sparked new concerns that Siberia and the Russian Far East are going to be overwhelmed by Chinese immigrants.
Indeed, according to one Siberian portal, there is a very real risk that if enough Chinese come into Siberia and the Russian Far East, Beijing will be able to invoke the ethnic Chinese card and thus play “the Crimean scenario” against Moscow.
In a Moskovsky Komsomolets article July 3 provocatively subtitled “Will the Entire Far East be Populated by Chinese?” Elena Yegorova said that Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev is considering allowing more Chinese firms to locate in Russia and to allow Beijing to ignore existing immigration quotas to staff them.
Adding insult to injury from the point of view of some Russians, Moscow is doing so by copying for the Russian Far East Beijing’s approach to regional development, with Medvedev even saying that “empty special ones are the worst scenario,” a reminder of how small the Russian population east of the Urals has become.
Siberian and Russian activists were quick to pick up on these themes. The Sibpower.com site, for example, headlined its coverage “The Government of the Russian Federation has Approved Further Chinese Expansion in the Far East,” criticizing Moscow for extending tax breaks to Chinese companies and allowing them to ignore immigration quotas.
According to the Sibpower.com portal, “the mass migration of Chinese to the Far East has been going on already for about 20 years,” as a result of which experts say “over this period about 100,000 Chinese have crossed into Russian permanently, not counting labor migrants.” What Moscow is doing now, it suggested, will only make the situation worse.