|Back to Index|
Russia and China: "She loves me, she loves me not"
Montaigne once said that truth on the Spanish side of the Pyrenees is different from that on the French side. That principle holds true of Paul Simon's reply from China to the assertions of Cameron Sawyer in Moscow that relations between Russia and China were cordial. Incidentally, Paul's reply confirms my doubts about the omission of China from the Russian book I quoted promoting a Russian pan.-Eurasian plan. Paul says: "Having just lived in Manchuria for two years and met all the major Chinese Officials in the Russian border area, the Russians should certainly not think that the PRC is their friend.
Chinese have long memories, possibly the longest. They remember the de facto Russian occupation of Manchuria before the Russo-Japanese war in 04-05. They remember the Soviet Red Army rolling up the Kwangtung Army in 1945 and then pillaging Manchuria of every power generator, machine tool, nice bit of furniture, pile of coal, etc. that wasn't welded to the crust of the earth (see the 1948 National Geographic article on Manchuria). They also remember a series of treaties from the late 1500's through 1860 in which Russia progressively got more land in Siberia at China's expense. They remember Russia helping Outer Mongolia gain independence from China after the Qing collapse of 1911. (Taiwan authorities still consider Mongolia part of the 'Republic of China' and wouldn't let Mongolians travel to Taiwan on a Mongolian passport until last week!!!!!)
The Chinese do a thriving market selling cheap consumer goods in Siberia and some estimates I have seen claim there are over a million PRC nationals illegally living in pacific Siberia, while the Russian population dwindles. Chinese often hire Russians as drayage labor in border areas. Russians are the high-end prostitutes of choice in Northeast China. The current mayor of Petropavlovsk just shut down all the Chinese traders in the city market and the until recently governor of Primorsky Kray Vladivostok area) based much of his popularity on being anti-Chinese.
I've been with Chinese officials standing at the ultimate corner of China, where about two miles of Russia stands between them and the East Sea (Sea of Japan) and heard them mutter about how they want back what was stolen in 1860. The intractable dispute over the Kuriles would seem to indicate what the Russian attitude about ceding territory is.
I don't think all the above is a recipe for a marriage made in heaven".
Ronald Hilton - 3/6/02