The Russian Far East and China: Thoughts on Cross-Border Integration
By Rensselaer Lee III, Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy Research Institute
Reviewed by John Handley, Vice President, American Diplomacy
Rens Lee, President of Global Advisory Services, has published yet another article on the Russian Far East (RFE), concentrating this time on the shared Russian-Chinese border. One problem he addresses is the excess of Russian arable land and a lack of Russian farmers, which has led to a rather extensive policy of renting Russian farm land to Chinese farmers. To date, this has been a win/win for both countries since most of the food crops make their way back to China while a sufficient amount stays in Russia to feed Russian citizens within the region.
Russia also hopes to gain modernization from its association with China, but so far the Chinese have only been interested in sending farmers, not technology. The unfortunate or perhaps unexpected result of providing so much land to so many Chinese is that Russia may well lose sovereignty over regions within its Far East.
Rens addresses three questions: how has this cross-border migration progressed; what future trends in integration are likely; and what policy issues, if any, will deepening economic ties between Russia and China have on the U.S. and for the West.
Currently the RFE in almost equal proportions divides some 75% of its trade with China, South Korea, and Japan, while all other trading partners comprise the remaining 25%. PRC trade within the nine RFE provinces varies from 9% to 99%, with the bulk of the trade concentrated in the four provinces that border China. Planned improvements in trans-border infrastructure will only strengthen China's economic position within the FRE.