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China Reform Monitor - No. 1236

Growing presence of Chinese farmers in Russia's Far East;
CPC tightens grip over online news content

Edited by Joshua Eisenman
August 18, 2016

July 23:

Vladivostok, Russia has become a popular destination for Chinese tourists and traders, many of whom believe the city should be returned to China. Having stoked nationalist rage against so-called unequal treaties like the Treaty of Beijing imposed by Russia in 1860, Beijing has convinced ordinary people that large parts of Siberia and the Russian Far East were unjustly seized. Chinese tour guides and guidebooks give Haishenwai ("sea cucumber bay") as Vladivostok's true name. Chinese social media bubbles with demands that China take back territory ceded to the Russian Empire in the 19th century. Russian nationalists remain concerned. Nikita Mikhalkov, a prominent film director and ardent Russian nationalist, has considered making a film about a Chinese military invasion of the Russian Far East to redress demands for vengeance against past land grabs by czarist Russia, 
The New York Times reports.

[Editor's Note: In 1858 and 1860 after the Qing Dynasty's defeat in the Second Opium War, Russia seized large swathes of territory including Vladivostok in two land grabs. Claims that Russia's Far East should be Chinese date from the Jin dynasty, established in the 12th century by Jurchens, a non-Han people from Manchuria. A series of agreements since 1991 have demarcated the 2,615-mile-long Sino-Russian border, and Beijing has not sought to renegotiate that agreement.]
July 25:

The CPC is tightening its grip over news content, 
Bloomberg reports. The Beijing office of the Cyberspace Administration of China has ordered all online news services to dismantle "current-affairs news" operations and carry only reports provided by government-controlled print or online media. Sina Corp., Tencent Holdings Ltd., Inc. and NetEase Inc. will have to stop all original news reporting or face financial penalties. The companies have "seriously violated" internet regulations by carrying news content obtained through original reporting, causing "huge negative effects," according to a report in the official The Paper. Online news services had operated in a regulatory gray area, and the sweeping ban gives authorities near-absolute control over online news and political discourse. 

July 27:

Police officers use of condoms as evidence against sex workers is hindering efforts to prevent the spread of HIV in China, 
according to a report by Asia Catalyst. Some police use unopened condoms to trap prostitutes into confessing. As a result, prostitutes are increasingly reluctant to carry condoms, hence making them more vulnerable and undermining government condom distribution efforts. Sex work is illegal in China, and condoms are identified as a "tool of offense" by the Ministry of Public Security and can be a deciding factor in whether to arrest prostitutes or hand down penalties, the report said. "Law enforcement actions are having a profound effect on sex workers' health and safety, including on condom use and behaviors," said Karyn Kaplan of Asia Catalyst told The New York Times. According to the World Health Organization, more than 575,000 people in China had HIV in 2015, and the primary mode of transmission was through intercourse, Sina reports

July 31:

This month Defense Minister Chang Wanquan met with Afghan army chief of general staff Qadam Shah Shaheem and a Taliban delegation visited China, Reuters reportsThe visits come after China's work with Pakistan and the United States to broker peace talks to end the 15 year Taliban insurgency broke down after former Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Akhtar Mansour was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Pakistan in May. During their meeting Chang thanked Shaheem for Afghan forces support in combating Uighur independence "terrorist forces and on issues related to China's core interests" and called for more bilateral military cooperation.

August 1:

Despite the Russian authorities' attempts to limit Chinese migrant flows the number of Chinese farmers in Russia's Jewish Autonomous Region (JAR), which borders Heilongjiang, continues to rise rapidly, The New York Times reports. A district administrator said there are "no actual figures" for the number of Chinese working in the JAR but: "There are undoubtedly many more Chinese than Jews." (Though Jews only constitute a very small percentage of the JAR's population of roughly 200,000). Many Chinese work without registering and "work like mad," she said, praising them for turning unused land into productive farms. After the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 many Jews emigrated to Israel and elsewhere leaving large tracts of land untended and Chinese came over the Amur River to farm it. Native Russian men, many of them alcoholics, accuse the Chinese of overworking the land and using too much chemical fertilizer. Nationalist politicians in Moscow have also expressed dismay. When authorities in Trans-Baikal proposed leasing 285,000 unused acres along the border to a Chinese firm for grain production, protests erupted in Russia's faraway European districts. To evade regulations that restrict foreigners from owning land, Chinese men sometimes marry Russian women. "We now have a lot of pretend marriages," said the district administrator.

Related Categories: China; China and East Asia Program

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