Russian fears about China’s aspirations east of the Urals on the rise


International, More

Vladimir Putin’s visit to Beijing and Siberia has generated widespread attention to what Moscow may do to try to boost the economy and build up the population of Russia east of the Urals, something that comes at a time when Russian nervousness about China’s intentions with regard to Russian territory are again on the rise.

Among the developments in recent weeks fueling these fears are the following:

  • New estimates of the number of Chinese citizens living in the Russian Far East that range up to 2.5 million, sparking concerns that Beijing might invoke Putin’s own Crimean strategy in order to absorb portions of the Russian Far East and Siberia at some point in the future.
  • A dramatic influx of Chinese tourists on top of these permanent residents, most of whom have come to visit sites connected with the 1917 Bolshevik revolution but who often stay in Chinese-organized hotels and eat at Chinese restaurants, leading some Russians to think the Chinese view the region already as theirs de facto ( and
  • Growing anger among Siberians about the way in which Moscow officials and regional ones are selling off the natural resources of their country to China and pocketing the revenue rather than sharing it with the region’s population.
  • Expanded land and air connections between the Russian Far East and China, connections that make it far cheaper for Russians to travel to China and Chinese to travel to the Russian Far East than for Russians in that region to travel to Moscow.
  • And the appearance, according to unconfirmed but entirely plausible reports of road signs in Siberian and Far Eastern cities in the Chinese language, the kind of small thing that leads to often over-heated reactions.

Yaroslav Zolotaryov, a Siberian regionalist, provides a balanced assessment of the nature of Chinese activities on Russian territory and Beijing’s possible moves in the future in an article entitled “Does China Threaten Siberia?” His answer is a cautious one, not yet and not necessarily territorially but definitely culturally.

He points to three reasons for concern:

  1. Chinese memories of the unequal treaties Russia imposed on Beijing 150 years ago and Beijing’s desire, still implicit, to rectify the situation;
  2. The economic and demographic growth of China at a time of Russia’s economic and demographic decline; and
  3. The population and resource imbalance between China and the Russian Far East.

Those concerns have only intensified this year, he continues, because the number of Chinese immigrant workers in the Russian Far East has gone up by 400,000 since January 2017, while Russia’s Far Eastern Federal District has lost two million people in the same period as a result of higher death rates and outmigration.

Putin regime propaganda insists there is no threat, Zolotaryov says; but its arguments both are problematic and have the effect of calling attention to a threat Moscow does not want to talk about at all, thus provoking the very worries that the regime would like to still.

  • According to Moscow, “the Chinese Peoples Republic is more interested in investments in Siberian enterprises than in populating the region.” But the Siberian regionalist argues that the one almost certainly will lead to the other over time.
  • Second, Moscow insists that because the standard of living in China is higher than in Russia, the Chinese won’t be interested in moving to Russia. But in fact, they are moving there and are seeking to make their fortunes beyond China’s current borders. They are doing that now exporting twice as much wealth from Russia as they are bringing to it.
  • And third, Moscow says, “the Chinese have other places to move to because a significant part of China is underpopulated. But the Chinese move to where there are resources, and there are far more of those in Siberia and the Russian Far East than in the parts of China where populations are small.

Zolotaryov concludes that “the Siberian people in the 21st century will be threatened not only by assimilation from imperial Russian-speaking culture, which in fact is already occurring, but also by assimilation from a China that is no less imperial” and thus of concern to the residents of the enormous region east of the Urals.

Some Russian commentators are much less measured in their reaction. One, writing on the Russian Orthodox nationalist site, Russkaya liniya, recalls that in the 1930s, Stalin expelled all the ethnic Chinese from the Russian Far East making that region — but not the USSR as a whole — “Chinese free.”

He expresses regret that there appears little chance for a repetition of what he sees as an act of national salvation.


Edited by: A. N.

Dear readers! Since you’ ve made it to this point, we have a favor to ask. Russia’s hybrid war against Ukraine is ongoing, but major news agencies have gone away, which is why it's extra important to provide news about Ukraine in English. We are a small independent journalist team on a shoestring budget, have no political or state affiliation, and depend on our readers to keep going (using ťhe chance - a big thank you to our generous supporters, we couldn't make it without you). We are now $5,000 short of our financial goal and need your support to continue working. If you like what you see, please help keep us online with a donation!

Tags: , , , , , , , ,


  1. Avatar Scradje says:

    In any confrontation, China will be able to match pootlerstan for cruelty, deception and evil.

    1. Avatar Dagwood Bumstead says:

      Peking doesn’t have to. China and the US are the only two superpowers. Yes, the dwarf has more nukes than Peking. But otherwise, Peking outmatches the dwarf in every way. China is an economic giant, Dwarfstan a midget, and it has no way of catching up, despite its huge resources. The dwarf wasted huge amounts of money (after he and his crooked chums pilfered their unfair share) on megalomaniac projects and senseless wars which he can’t win, not to mention the most important factor, time. He wasted 17 years doing nothing to develop and modernise the country, and time is running out for Dwarfstan. It is doomed to fall ever further behind the rest of the world, and it won’t be able to make up the lost ground.

      1. Avatar Tony says:

        Yes, also, China can just take russias natural resources in the sparsely populated east and nuke russias west. Plus russia will get no help from western countries, just a “Hahahaha! suits you right!”.

      1. Avatar Scradje says:

        Kremnaцi occupied Donbas is a toxic sewer run by demons.

        1. Avatar Sania says:

          bastardje, but where are the 8 millions people of Donbass?

          1. Avatar veth says:

            Most fled to free Ukraine , after the Russians invaded……….

          2. Avatar Sania says:

            troll, hundreds thousands fled in Russia and some thousands fled in ukra
            Are u did help for one of them? Oksana with two little sons from Lugansk lived
            near. My little help were 30 $ per month during season. Activists from Kazahn’ did find for her job and flat.

          3. Avatar veth says:

            Russian fascist: 600.000 fled to Hitler-Russia, 1, 8 milion to free Ukraine. Official figures. Crimes by your nazzi-regime.

          4. Avatar Sania says:

            weak troll, ur fasci words are for modern ukra, not for Russia
            ur dirty rebel made ur endless lie in rule. It is pity

          5. Avatar veth says:

            Your nazzi-Army killed 12.000 Ukrainians in Donbass, and downed MH17. Russians are nazzies.

          6. Avatar Sania says:

            the first war of free ukra army is against ukranians and russians in Donbass
            at least ukra fasci army did kill 20000 civilians and 10000 defenders of Donbass. It means, ukra nation in blood now
            MH 17 shot down by ukra BUK rocket. Several ukra BUK brigades were in
            Zaroshchenskoe in ready position and did it.

          7. Avatar veth says:

            5000 Russian soldiers killed in Donbass. The Kursk Brigade in Lugansk downed MH17, investigation is ready.

          8. Avatar Sania says:

            troll, BUK brigade consists from six big truck machines. Only crazy can believe such command was invisible abroad. I understand some ukra people are crazy, some in deep blindness and silence. And euro is in same position by the order of department of state. It means, ur investigation is for water closet only.

          9. Avatar veth says:

            The tribunal against Putin and the other nazzies for downing MH17 STARTS IN 2018.

          10. Avatar Sania says:

            forget, ukra love fairy-tale. and western media like it very much

          11. Avatar veth says:

            You loves the fairy tales from Russia that did not downed it haha/

          12. Avatar veth says:


          13. Avatar Sania says:

            ukra love fairy-tale. and western media like it very much

          14. Avatar veth says:

            Russian love to kill Ukrainians, or downing planes.

          15. Avatar Sania says:

            troll, u said the words of ds order, no more…

          16. Avatar Sania says:

            the ukra army would bathe in the Dnieper, if so many Russian soldiers perished in Donbass

          17. Avatar veth says:


      2. Avatar Tony says:

        Donetsk before and after

        Its getting there, with just a few thousand more pro-russian fools it will look like this:

    2. Avatar Sania says:

      hohlushka, still going crazy?
      “deception ” –it is –ds can not erase Syria?

  2. Avatar veth says:

    The Crimean scenario, Chinese way. In 5 years little blue man will invade Siberia to protect the Chinese speaking population of Siberia…

    1. Avatar Dagwood Bumstead says:

      Perhaps not within 5 years, but it is inevitable. I doubt whether Peking will be satisfied with merely controllig the territory economically, especially as most Chinese regard it as theirs anyway, stolen by Aleksandr II. Peking is creating facts on the groud by sending its citizens, legally and otherwise, across the border. Primorskii and Transbaikal are already as good as lost and the dwarf or his successor should be thankful if that is all Dwarfstan loses to Peking.

      But it won’t be.

      1. Avatar veth says:


        One person was killed and two injured in a car bombing in the heart of Kyiv near Bessaravska Square on Sept. 8. One of the injured is reportedly a child.

        The killed man was reportedly Timur Mahauri, a Chechen with Georgian citizenship. Mahauri was a member of the Chechen volunteer battalion that is participating in the fighting in the eastern Ukraine on the Ukrainian government side.

  3. Avatar zorbatheturk says:

    Mandarin will soon become a second language in Siberia. Siberia’s only hope is to become independent of Moscow.

    1. Avatar veth says:

      He calls it: we have a market economy….hahahahaha