Ultima Thule

In ancient times the northernmost region of the habitable world - hence, any distant, unknown or mysterious land.

Monday, May 29, 2006

The Chinese are coming! The Chinese are coming!

By Aussiegirl

Russians are experiencing an immigration problem of their own. Tim Birdnow wrote about this emerging trend in his article for the American Thinker recently. It would be worth it to take a look and see that our good friend nails another prognostication. Note that years after the supposed end of communism private property still does not exist. Russia's demographic implosion is already having repercussions, and will continue to do so in future years.

Here's what Tim had to say in his prescient article entitled "Empty Womb":

Russia finds itself in a terrible conundrum; she needs people – especially skilled people – but is unable to keep the skilled Russians at home to work. So Russia is forced to accept more immigrants to keep the economy moving. The larger the economy grows, the more Russia needs workers.

The problem is that Siberia has always been under-populated, and even the Russian oil pools were never swimming in Great Russians. Many Russians are becoming increasingly disturbed by the invasion of non-Russian peoples, and the cry “Russia for the Russians” increasingly is being heard against this flood of illegal aliens.

Now here's the article in today's Asia Times:

Asia Times Online :: Central Asian News and current affairs, Russia, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan

BLAGOVESHCHENSK, KHABAROVSK and VLADIVOSTOK - The Chinese are coming! They are invading the Far East! If headlines in the new and free - but often sensational and irresponsible - Russian press are to be believed, a massive influx of Chinese into Siberia and the Russian Far East is turning the area "yellow" and Russia is about to lose its easternmost provinces.

But in cities such as Vladivostok, Khabarovsk and Blagoveshchensk the Chinese are not very much in evidence. They are there, but seldom seen outside their hotels and restaurants - and the region's ubiquitous casinos and Chinese markets. It is true, however, that Chinese merchants now

dominate the region's trade and commerce. Economically, the Russian Far East is becoming separated from European Russia.

Before the Soviet Union disintegrated in 1991, the Far East supplied European Russia and the other western republics with fish and crabs from the Sea of Okhotsk. The area's heavy industry produced steel, aircraft and even ships, and few foreign consumer goods were for sale.

Today, Chinese consumer goods - which are cheaper and better than those produced far away in European Russia - and even food are flooding the markets, while timber and raw materials are going south. Entire factories are being dismantled and sold as scrap metal to China. And the seafood is almost exclusively sold to South Korea and Japan.

In the long run this could also lead to demographic changes. There is a floating population of tens of thousands Chinese traders and seasonal workers who move back and forth across the border, and one day they may want to stay.

Russia's Far Eastern Federal District - a huge area covering 6,215,900 square kilometers - has only 7 million inhabitants, and that is down from 9 million in 1991. The population is declining rapidly as factories are closing down and military installations have been withdrawn.

Across the border, China's three northeastern provinces - Heilongjiang, Jilin and Liaoning - are home to 100 million people, and the area has even by Chinese standards an unusually high unemployment rate. Or, as one Western analyst put it: "If the Russians continue to move out, the Chinese are ready to fill the resultant population vacuum in the area." And that could lead to more than just a change of the demographic balance in what still is the Russian Far East.

Officially, 40,000 Chinese live more or less permanently in the Russian Far East - which stretches from the Lena River basin to the Bering Sea - but the actual figure is believed to be much higher. The largest concentrations are in the three main cities in the area, and their economic dominance is the strongest in Blagoveshchensk, the economy of which is less developed and diversified than those of Khabarovsk and Vladivostok.

Blagoveshchensk is also on the banks of the Amur River - with the Chinese city of Heihe on the other side. Hydrofoils full of Chinese traders bringing in goods ply between the two cities every 30 minutes. There are some Russian merchants too - but they are also carrying household utensils, shoes and tools from China.

And it is not only the trade in consumer goods that is in the hands of the Chinese. The construction sector in Blagoveshchensk is dominated by a Chinese-owned company, Hua Fu, which has just began working on what will be the tallest building in the Russian Far East. Chinese New Year is not an official holiday, but it is celebrated in style with fireworks, drums and lion dances.

Even the mayor of the city and the governor of the area, Amursky oblast, usually participate as guests of honor. Amursky oblast may also be the most vulnerable for what many Russians call a "creeping occupation" by the Chinese. It is huge - 363,700 square kilometers, the same area as Japan - but with a population of only 900,000. More than 35 million live in Heilongjiang across the Amur River.

Local Russians say the land is not suitable for farming, the weather being too cold most of the year, but the Chinese who have settled there have managed to cultivate the land. According to Lyudmila Erokhina, a researcher at Vladivostok State University, Chinese businessmen have bribed local officials to acquire land from Russian farmers, and then brought in agricultural workers from China to till the fields. A major problem, she says, is that Russia has no law that regulates private ownership of land. All land still belong to the state, and individual farmers can only get the right to use it.


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