Why invade when you can buy? China already owns 80% of Russian region

Russian President Vladimir Putin shaking hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Beijing, China, November 2014. (Image: Reuters)

Russian President Vladimir Putin shaking hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Beijing, China, November 2014. (Image: Reuters) 

2016/06/25 • Analysis & Opinion

Aleksandr Liventhal, the governor of Russia’s Jewish Autonomous Oblast, says that according to the data he has, “80 percent of the land” in that region which borders China’s Heilongjiang Province is now “controlled by the Chinese,” a statement certain to spark new fears among Russians about China’s intentions and Moscow’s failure to counter them.

The Jewish Autonomous Oblast is a federal subject of Russia in the Russian Far East, bordering Heilongjiang province in China. Its administrative center is the town of Birobidzhan. Its land area is about 36,000 square km or 14,000 square miles, while its population was just over 176,000 at the time of 2010 Census.

Speaking to the St. Petersburg Economic Forum, Liventhal said that when he was appointed, investors came to him and said they would like to develop Birobidzhan’s agriculture but needed help because land there is divided up in complex ways thus making its exploitation difficult.

There are some Russian farmers there – after all, ethnic Russians make up nearly 93 percent of the population of the Jewish Autonomous Oblast (Jews number less than one percent of the total population of just over 176,000) – but “by legal means or illegal means or various methods,” the Chinese have taken control of the vast majority of it.

Worse, Liventhal says, the Chinese owners have sown 85 percent of the land they control with soy, a plant that “kills the land,” thus further reducing the economic prospects of what is already a depressed area.

In the past, the Jewish Autonomous Oblast, which Stalin set up to be a homeland for Jews from European Russia but which has never succeeded in attracting many of them, has attracted occasional attention because apart from Israel it is the only officially Jewish territory in the world.

Liventhal’s intervention in St. Petersburg is certain to make it the focus of Russian nationalist attention, with many Russians asking why the Chinese have been able to make such progress in taking control of a Russian region and even more why the Putin regime has done little or nothing to stop them.


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Edited by: A. N.

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  • Dagwood Bumstead

    Sooner or later China will want not only economic use of the land, but also its political control. It’s no secret that Peking wants the territories back that Aleksandr II stole in 1856 and 1860. It started its infiltration of the Dwarfstanian Far East some time ago through legal and illegal immigration and taking control of the economy through investments, and eventually the land will fall into its hands like a ripe plum. Moscow doesn’t have the military strength to oppose Peking should the latter decide to take back officially what it considers its rightful property.

    • Quartermaster

      Besides, Putin’s attention taken by the Ukrainian “threat.” Who knows what they might do. Capture a couple more GRU officers and wring them out? Who knows….

  • zorbatheturk

    Stalin’s generosity was the stuff of legend.