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China Reform Monitor No. 357, January 29, 2001
American Foreign Policy Council, Washington, D.C.

Russian far east residents fear takeover by China;
Sino-Russian "strategic cooperation" pact aimed at US

Editor: Al Santoli

December 10

"They spread like jellyfish, penetrating everywhere -- and gradually you find that without a shot being fired, they've simply taken over," a Russian resident of the Russian Far East told a reporter from the London Independent. There are a mere 10 million Russians living in thousands of miles of the country's vast Far East. Just over the 2,400 mile border, in China's northern provinces, there are at least 250 million people.

Thousands of legal and illegal Chinese immigrants, tourists and business people are flooding into the Far East. Six thousand miles west of Moscow, in Vladivostok, the region's hub and Russia's strategic port on the Pacific Ocean, Chinese is spoken everywhere. During the past decade, Chinese traders have poured across the border to sell cheap consumer goods. An hour's drive away, at Ussurik, Russia, the local bazaar is like a separate Chinese town. In Vladivostok, although hotels depend heavily on tourists from China, the Independent found that almost no Russians have good words for the Chinese. Said tour guide Irina Gimilshtein, "They behave as though they own the town . . . there is a threat we will lose this territory."

While the Putin government in Moscow signs new anti-Western arms-sales agreements with Beijing, in some areas of the Far East, local Russian authorities -- feeling abandoned by Moscow -- have recruited Cossaks to form a chain of half-agricultural, half-military settlements to guard the winding frontier from hostile incursion. For example, at Pogran-Petrovka, two-dozen Cossak families have been given an abandoned army base in the wilderness. Their job is to mount joint patrols with regular border troops and establish a self-sufficient community to be part of a human shield against a gradual demographic takeover by China.

January 8

The governments of Russia and China have begun drafting of an expanded Sino-Russian "strategic cooperative partnership" agreement, which is expected to be signed in coming months, reports the Hong Kong Tai Yang Pao. The drafting of the agreement [aimed against the United States and its allies], which includes a military cooperation mechanism, began following a telephone conversation between Vladimir Putin and Jiang Zemin. The treaty will stress, "the need to oppose international hegemonism, power politics and military blocs' military invasion and blackmail against sovereign sovereign states . . . When a signatory state to the treaty experiences military aggression, the other signatory state should, if requested, provide political, economic and military support and launch joint attacks against the invading forces."

January 13

The Washington Post reports that diplomats believe the upcoming Sino-Russian strategic cooperation treaty will be signed in mid-2001, when Jiang Zemin travels to Moscow. Although two years ago US diplomats say they did not take Russia's security ties with China seriously, today their mood has shifted. "Our real concern," said a US military official said, "is in the things we can't see -- the technical transfers, Russian help on China's cruise missile program, its rockets and strategic forces."

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